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Thread: Rezoning the Garment District

  1. #16
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Garment District Frays

    By SHELLY BANJO

    Not far from Times Square in Manhattan, reams of fabric and rows of buttons still line the corridors of West 38th and 39th streets in the Garment District.

    The area, once full of the city's top fashion houses and garmentos who sewed buttons and stitched patterns for the city's retail shops, has been shrinking for decades.

    At M&S Schmalberg, workers turn fabric into flowers that adorn everything from children's clothes to an actress's Academy Awards ceremony gown. Fabric is starched, dried, then assembled by hand, using techniques perfected over the last century, Elva Ramirez reports.

    Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal A man shops at Spandex World in the Garment District.

    In 1987, half of the 9.5 million square feet in the district was zoned for production in order to preserve jobs and allay fears that manufacturing activity would diminish.

    Today only about 1.5 million square feet of that space is actually being used for production, according to Barbara Randall, executive director of the Fashion District Business Improvement District.

    As production moved abroad, a cadre of architecture, technology firms and nonprofits drawn to a prime location and cheap rents moved into the center. As the garment industry shrunk, a decade of arguments between the city, property owners, designers, unions and production workers ensued, leaving the neighborhood—located only blocks from glitzy Times Square—looking a bit drab.

    Vacancies doubled between 2007 and 2009 to 9.48% and rents fell by nearly a fifth to $40.88 a square foot from their 2008 peak, according to real-estate data company Reis Inc.

    Some building owners and their representatives think the current zoning is contributing to the problem.

    Jason Wu, Anna Sui and Nanette Lepore each manufacture around 80% of their collections in Manhattan's garment district. Through their own collections, they keep hundreds of New Yorkers at local factories employed, Elva Ramirez reports.



    "Buildings aren't maintained and the area is blighted because there's just no incentive to put in a new elevator or lobby when it's just manufacturers who leave at the end of the day," says Eric Gural, an executive managing director at commercial real-estate firm Newmark Knight Frank, who manages a number of buildings in the area. "By following the law, property owners at a disadvantage because we can't use the building for the highest and best use and rent to small businesses and nonprofits who are looking for lower rents," Mr. Gural says.

    The Hudson Yards rezoning of 2005, which included a pocket of the Garment District, gave the city a taste of what might happen if the entire district was rezoned.

    Nearly two dozen hotels including a Sheraton, Holiday Inn and Westin, went up in the district, tripling the number of hotel rooms. Emerald Green, a new 24-story luxury condominium, came to market and the landlord, Glenwood Management, is planning another 199-unit rental building nearby.

    But others say there are risks in opening up the area to those not connected to the Garment industry. "We don't want the mini-Wal-Marts and Starbucks that have invaded our city to take over here," says Nanette Lepore, a fashion designer who has worked in the Garment District since the early 1990s and led a number of rallies to maintain the area as a center for manufacturing and design.

    "We need to be creative and find a way to make this a fashion center that embraces young designers, new talent and start-up businesses."



    Now, the next move for the Garment District has gone into a stall. Discussions have halted among the area's interest groups over a proposal to fold the district's production and manufacturing into one building on West 38th Street that would serve as a fashion innovation center. Critics said the building wasn't big enough and today, most of the building's 300,000 square feet remain empty.

    "The plan was completely unrealistic," Ms. Lepore says. "We need a plan that will maintain and encourage manufacturing and production, not just placate us for the moment."

    With those discussions on the backburner, the city and other parties have turned away from the zoning fracas and instead have focused on other ways to boost the $55 billion fashion industry.

    In April the city helped usher 12 new designers into a fashion incubator and earlier this month announced a six-point plan to boost the fashion industry that includes a new fund and fellowship program for young designers and manufacturers. But there wasn't any mention about resuming talks over zoning issues.

    "We are committed to preserving the Garment Center's function as a central place for fashion designers, suppliers, and manufacturers to congregate" says a spokeswoman for the New York Economic Development Corp.

    "But any proposal to strengthen the area will only be successful if designers, property owners and manufacturers are willing to come to the table and work with the City in a way that may include compromise to find a solution," she said in a statement.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...rk_real_estate

  2. #17
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    "By following the law, property owners at a disadvantage because we can't use the building for the highest and best use and rent to small businesses and nonprofits who are looking for lower rents," Mr. Gural says.
    The Hudson Yards rezoning of 2005, which included a pocket of the Garment District, gave the city a taste of what might happen if the entire district was rezoned.

    Nearly two dozen hotels including a Sheraton, Holiday Inn and Westin, went up in the district, tripling the number of hotel rooms. Emerald Green, a new 24-story luxury condominium, came to market and the landlord, Glenwood Management, is planning another 199-unit rental building nearby.
    Uh huh.


    The Westin and the Sheraton are "small businesses and nonprofits".........

    I think the one woman has it right:

    "We don't want the mini-Wal-Marts and Starbucks that have invaded our city to take over here,"


    At the same time, it is difficult to give special priveledge and purview to ONE particular area of commerce and manufacture over all others....

    Is there any way to partially open this up so that others can also use this as a starting point? Others besides just those in the garment industry?

  3. #18

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    The industry has voted with it's feet, and largely left. Why reserver such a large chunk of space for them?

  4. #19
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    It's more important to keep the area intact in the historical sense.

  5. #20
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Meh.

    It would be more important to change the "garment district" into the "small buisness district". Allowing small buiisness owners to come in at reduced rents, provided they are not franchises. (Unless, of course, they are the FIRST of a future franchise.....)

  6. #21

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    Why, to build a museum to a dying (in NYC) industry? Recycle the space to make it more useful to business that actually want it. If that means tearing down and rebuilding so be it (or even better, as it would create more jobs.)

    Quote Originally Posted by stache View Post
    It's more important to keep the area intact in the historical sense.

  7. #22

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    If that means tearing down and rebuilding so be it...
    -and I thought I had heard everything....
    Changing use is one thing- ripping out the heart of old Gotham is another thing entirely (and completely without merit).

  8. #23
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    I'm thinking my post was misunderstood. I meant preserving the structures. They are a unique group and worth saving.

  9. #24
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    They definitely need sprucing up..... :P

  10. #25
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Garment center revamp a work in progress

    City's Economic Development Corp. is still weighing its options as some press for ways to preserve manufacturing in area that's facing huge development pressures.

    By Adrianne Pasquarelli

    The battle for the future of the garment center was front and center Tuesday night when real estate and city executives, along with fashion designers and community leaders, gathered for a panel discussion about the sustainability of the neighborhood and how production, which has suffered drastic declines, can continue there. The town hall event was hosted by Community Board 5.

    An official from the city's Economic Development Corp. said shaping a rezoning of the neighborhood is a priority but that the outcome is still unclear.

    “We have a whole team working on the garment center, but we are not ready to speak on it,” said Madelyn Wils, executive vice president for the EDC. Ms. Wils was initially tasked with the issue about a year ago.

    In recent years, the Bloomberg administration has wavered on rezoning plans for the beleaguered 13-block district; at one point, it floated the notion of moving the 9.5 million-square-foot manufacturing hub into a single 300,000-square-foot building on West 38th Street. Rallies by fashion designers and manufacturers seemed to have temporarily shelved such moves, but on Tuesday, it was clear that the city has yet to fully make up its mind.

    The area, which runs from Sixth to Ninth avenues and from West 35th to West 40th streets, is home to around 21,500 fashion-related jobs, a far cry from the 200,000-plus people working in the industry there in the 1960s.

    Though many tenants in the neighborhood want to preserve the area for production, real estate pressures have been mounting. Thanks to nearby tourist magnets such as Times Square and Madison Square Garden, as well as a host of subway lines, rents are increasing. Current rents for manufacturing space along side streets range from $14.50 to $20 a square foot, while showroom space on the avenues is closer to $40 a square foot, according to Eric Gural, executive managing director at Newmark Knight Frank.

    “You've seen 20 hotels pop up in our district in the last five years,” he said, noting the rising prices.

    Several neighborhood voices offered their own remedies. Adam Friedman, director of the Pratt Center for Community Development, suggested a solution in which those in the fashion industry own the buildings themselves.

    “It's gonna cost some money—government and property owners will have to chip in,” he said.

    Others noted that the garment center needed “sexier” ground-floor retail tenants, such as edgy boutiques and chic restaurants. Such evolution helped the nearby meatpacking district, which has become a fashion hub housing both stores and showrooms, from designers including Diane von Furstenburg and fashion houses such as Alice + Olivia.

    “For ground-floor retail, we struggle,” said Barbara Randall, president of the Fashion Center Business Improvement District, noting the 14% vacancy rate for retail in the neighborhood. “Fashion is not in the fashion district.”

    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article...NewYork.com%29

  11. #26
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    I sympathize for the companies working there, but at the same time, the only reason that there WAS a garment district was because people did not want to hang out there. It was not, to my recollection, an expensive area that people came from all around to spend their free time in.

    It is one thing when family restaurants and small buisnesses get caught up and pushed out of an area. I will feel for the shoemakers and some of the smaller shops that trade their wares in that area, but for the most part that area is really dumpy and could be so much more.

    What would be a good solution though? Do we NEED a GD in Manhattan? Or could it move back out to NJ (Patterson was a HUGE one) or the outer boroughs with no real harm done? What other factors (commute, worker base, supplies) are major factors in this?

  12. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by stache View Post
    I'm thinking my post was misunderstood. I meant preserving the structures. They are a unique group and worth saving.
    I agree with you. There are some beautiful old buildings there. They should be steam-cleaned and converted into apartments.

  13. #28
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    City Planning is having a public hearing this week, Monday, September 19, 2011 @ 10AM (250 Broadway Committee Room, 16th Floor) to create new zoning between Seventh <> Eighth Avenues & West 28th <> West 30th, including a big parking lot and structures at 241-251 West 28th Street (next to the Onyx):

    LU 0475-2011: Application no. N 110285 ZRY submitted by the Department of City Planning, pursuant to Section 201 of the New York City Charter for an amendment of the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York, to create a new zoning district, M1-6D, and to modify related Sections pertaining to the establishment of the new district; and to modify Appendix F to facilitate a new Inclusionary Housing designated area.

    LU 0476-2011: Application no. C 100063 ZMM submitted by 249 W. 28th Street Properties, LLC pursuant to Sections 197-c and 201 of the New York City Charter for an amendment of the Zoning Map, Section No. 8d, by changing an M1-5 District to an M1-6D District, Borough of Manhattan, Council District no. 3.

    LU 0477-2011: Application no. C 110064 ZSM submitted by 249 W. 28th Street Properties, LLC pursuant to Sections 197-c and 201 of the New York City Charter for the grant of a special permit pursuant to Sections 13-562 and 74-52 of the Zoning Resolution to allow an attended Public Parking Garage with maximum capacity of 325 spaces on portions of the ground floor, cellar level and sub-cellar level of a proposed mixed-use development on property located at 241-251 West 28th Street a.k.a. 240-250 West 29th Street (Block 778, Lots 13, 16, 18 & 66), in an M1-6D District), Borough of Manhattan, Community District 5. This application is subject to review and action by the Land Use Committee only if appealed to the Council pursuant to §197-d (b)(2) of the Charter or called up by vote of the Council pursuant to §197-d (b)(3) of the Charter.

    DOB Shows a Demo Application for the 4-story garage at 241-243 West 28th (aka 240-242 West 29th). Property is owned by Jay Street Associates and other entities out of Newark NJ (all which seem to be connected to Edison Parking, current [previous?] owners of the 4 lots in question).

    Some of the lots in question, from DOF:

    Click image for larger version. 

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  14. #29

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    God, imagine if they turned this area into a massive pedestrianized district full of cafes, boutique hotels and restaurants. The narrow dour alleys and old architecture would be perfect for such a role and there are few yuppies complaining about parking to prevent that.

  15. #30
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Alleys? Not sure what you're talking about. Perhaps the block-thru surface parking lots? If they're not going to be used for parking they'll be built upon. A smart developer would try to get allowances for through block plazas, with cafes fronting onto them. But they'd have to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops to make that happen.

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