Pratt Center Project

Urban Manufacturing

Keeping Jobs in Fashion

Protecting Manhattan's Garment Center and a Thriving Fashion Industry in NYC

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 in the Garment Center 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. Pratt Center has been a vocal advocate for the Garment Center for decades, and for crafting new solutions to preserve production space so fashion-related businesses can continue to invest and thrive.

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 along with a wide range of stakeholders argued vociferously that there must also be a strategy for strengthening the existing Garment Center. Over the past year, a Steering Committee co-chaired by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson worked with the NYC Economic Development Corporation to develop a more comprehensive strategy that the City is now moving foward. Pratt Center played a leading role on the steering committee, which also included the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the GC Suppliers Association, Workers United and other stakeholders. The City's new strategy ends the 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.

To see a summary of Pratt Center’s Garment Center research and advocacy efforts, click here.

Read Pratt Center's Statement upon City Planning’s certification of a zoning change to eliminate the Special Garment Center District here.