NEW YORK — Chinatown’s hard-hit garment makers, along with retailers and other businesses on the Lower East Side and in Little Italy, may get a much-needed break this fall.
Citing the devastating economic slowdown those downtown neighborhoods have faced since the Sept. 11 attacks, the city asked the state to name the area an "Empire Zone," which would entitle new and expanding businesses in the area to significant tax breaks.
Robert Walsh, commissioner for the New York City Department of Business Services, told WWD that if the state designates the area as an Empire Zone, "there would be a whole series of wage incentives and sales-tax incentives that would not cost the city. It would be a big boost for Chinatown.
"Chinatown has lost a lot of jobs, particularly in the garment industry," he continued. "We estimate that 15,000 jobs have been lost, the vacancy rate is in the double digits, and we have to do something."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday signed a bill asking the state to designate the three neighborhoods as an Empire Zone. In June, the state said that it would name six new Empire Zones this fall. Applications are due Aug. 30, and a spokeswoman for the New York State Commissioner of Economic Development said that 25 to 28 municipalities have notified the commission that they intend to file requests.
There are currently 62 Empire Zones, which were formerly called Economic Development Zones, in the state, with 10 of them in city. New businesses in Empire Zones can be exempted from sales taxes and receive reductions in real estate taxes and other taxes based on the number of new jobs they create.
The goal of the program is for new businesses to operate in an almost tax-free environment for their first 10 years of operation.
For the many Chinatown contractors who have laid off workers since Sept. 11, the program could be an incentive to hire people back, Walsh suggested.
Since Sept. 11, the number of garment contractors in Chinatown has dropped to 137 from 246, said Teddy Lai, executive director of the Greater Blouse, Skirt and Undergarment Association, a contractors group.Lai said designating the area an Empire Zone "will encourage more factories to come back to business."
Lai also praised the efforts of Walsh’s department in quickly preparing the application for the program: "It usually takes about eight months, nine months to file an application, but with DBS, we had it done in a month-and-a-half."
The program would also be a boost to retailers on the Lower East Side, which rose in importance as a hip shopping area over the past few years, but has seen a falloff in pedestrian traffic since the attacks.
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)