Pratt Center is a leading advocate for protecting Manhattan’s Garment Center and a thriving fashion industry in New York City. Since a proposed reconfiguration and relocation of garment center businesses was announced by the City in 2017, we have engaged in intense collaboration with industry stakeholders and elected officials to craft solutions to preserve production space so fashion-related businesses can continue to invest and thrive.
New York City’s Garment Center continues to be the greatest concentration of fashion-related businesses in the world. It is a complex ecosystem that includes designers and sewers, students and sample-makers, models, truckers, button merchants and more. However, the industry and the city’s economy have changed dramatically since the protective zoning for apparel production was created more than 30 years ago. Most stakeholders agree that the current protection mechanism is no longer an effective strategy for supporting the fashion industry and that new strategies must be put in place to secure the long-term viability of the garment industry in Midtown Manhattan.
In 2017, the City proposed a plan to lift the zoning restrictions in the Garment Center and encourage companies to move to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Pratt Center argued vociferously that there must also be a strategy for strengthening the existing Garment Center, and played a leading role on a steering committee formed by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to develop a more comprehensive strategy that the City is now moving forward.
Pratt Center helped shape and advocate for the major components of the new strategy adopted by the City, which ends the Garment Center’s protective zoning and seeks to replace it by:
- Allocating up to $20 million in city capital for a non-profit industrial developer to acquire and manage apparel production space indefinitely. This is a strategy Pratt Center has been calling upon the City to pursue for over a decade
- A tax abatement program to encourage building owners in the Garment Center to preserve production space in their buildings
- A grant program to support apparel manufacturers to purchase new equipment and train workers
In the coming months, Pratt Center will continue to work with the City, the NYC Council Speaker, the Manhattan Borough President, and the other members of the Garment Center Steering Committee to hammer out the fine details of these initiatives to preserve an even greater amount of affordable, stable apparel production space in the Garment Center.