NEW YORK — The Design Trust for Public Space and the Council of Fashion Designers of America have launched Making Midtown, a three-part initiative to bolster fashion design and manufacturing and guide development in the Garment District.

This story first appeared in the June 27, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Given Manhattan’s ever-tightening real estate squeeze, the neighborhood’s longtime future as a fashion hub has been a question mark for some time. “Making Midtown: Sustaining Design and Production in an Evolving Garment Center” is being put in place with the aim of delivering formal proposals to be reviewed by city officials and area stakeholders early next year.

To reach that objective, the DTPS and the CFDA have tapped the New York-based real estate consulting and architectural firm HR&A to analyze the Garment District’s dynamics, zoning, building stock and public realm. A project fellow will be named within the next week or so to head up that effort, said Jerome Chou, the DTPS’ director of programs. He declined to pinpoint the investment needed for Making Midtown, but noted that such foundations as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation have provided funding and individual donors were being approached.

This fall, “transparent and accessible” workshops will be held for anyone who wants to contribute an idea or understand what is going on in the district, he said. “We’re acknowledging the district is changing and we need to be ahead of that change,” Chou said.

CFDA representative Joerg Schwartz said, “We’re really pushing for concrete proposals that will be really different than what has been proposed before. There is nothing hindering us from getting a solution. This is just something that needs more in-depth analysis.”

Progress has been slow-going, according to Yeohlee Teng, who also has been instrumental in the review process. “Right now things are rather at a standstill. It’s static. Coming up with a plan to revitalize the district and to revive manufacturing still remains to be accomplished. It’s not a given, but it’s a goal,” the designer said.

However, the end result could be bountiful. “Hopefully, we can come up with a vision that can be replicated in all urban areas throughout the world where industry can not only reside but also thrive in cities along with developments in real estate,” Teng said.

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