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Study Proposes Garment District Initiatives

Using city streets for runway shows, turning loading docks into pop-up stores and creating a NYC-Made logo are among the suggestions.

NEW YORK — Using city streets for runway shows, turning loading docks into pop-up stores, creating a NYC-Made logo and offering manufacturers tax incentives are among the suggestions presented in the Making Midtown study that was released Wednesday.

With help from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the Design Trust for Public Space spent three years analyzing the Garment District’s impact on New York City. While sustaining manufacturing as the industry’s core remains a key objective, the study calls for unleashing the neighborhood’s real estate value which has an incremental annual economic impact of $340 million. Design Trust’s executive director Susan Chin said her group is proposing “a model for an urban creative district that leverages rather than replaces the presence of manufacturing.”

Manhattan’s Garment District contributes $2 billion a year to the local economy. The 7,100 apparel industry jobs in the Garment District are essential to New York City’s $9 billion fashion industry, according to the report. Throughout the city, there are more than 170,00 fashion industry jobs.

The report spells out 17 recommendations for city officials, such as establishing voluntary, market-based zoning incentives for dedicated manufacturing, retaining existing manufacturers with tax incentives and developing a NYC Fashion Innovation Center. The Design Trust has also suggested upgrading public spaces with wider sidewalks, temporary installations and better traffic patterns. Creating rooftop parks on low-rise buildings and converting a vehicular lane on a district side street to one for bikes and fashion-related deliveries were a few of the more unusual ideas.

Nanette Lepore, a longtime proponent of saving the Garment Center, said of Wednesday’s Making Midtown press conference, “It was invigorating to see the enthusiasm in the room. After six years of pushing, there is now actually a study. It’s going to take implementation to keep things going. There is a lot to it and we have to keep things rolling. And it’s easy to get caught up in your daily job.”