NEW YORK — The tents can call Bryant Park their home for two more years.
IMG Fashion, which owns Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, signed a contract on Friday to keep the event in Bryant Park through February 2010. The deal was negotiated over the past six months with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the Bryant Park Corp. According to Fern Mallis, IMG Fashion's senior vice president, this is the longest contract IMG has signed with Bryant Park. It usually had year-to-year deals.
"It gives us all a little bit of breathing time to continue to look at other alternatives and spaces, and to do it with the knowledge and understanding that we don't have to keep going back to the drawing board each season to rehash this out," Mallis said. "This enables us to do it in an orderly and efficient manner."
In the 16 years the event has taken place at Bryant Park, it has grown significantly, and the Bryant Park Corp. has made no secret it wants the event to move from the park. It took the intervention of Bloomberg last October to keep the tents in Bryant Park.
This season, IMG Fashion had to shrink its footprint and give up one site to reduce the impact on the park. Mallis added that the new contract allows to potentially increase the footprint again and to add another venue if necessary. She added she will continue looking for solutions beyond the two-year extension. "I know there has been speculation about the Port Authority roof, which we looked at a couple of times," she said. "There are some issues we are not sure can be overcome, which has to do with the building itself, the weight loads for the roof...and the access to the roof. There are currently three small passenger elevators that take six people."
Whether the deal with the park could be extended beyond two years remains unclear. Mallis said she preferred not to project too far in the future.
"If we are in earnest looking for spaces and something materializes that won't be built by 2010, we hope that the city and the park will continue to work with us in good faith," she said. "But right now, we don't want to worry what's going to happen in 2010. A lot of things can change in two years in this city and this industry. It's an eternity in fashion terms."
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