Pedestrian-friendly streets, outdoor furniture and an assortment of new hotels in the Garment District helped drive pedestrian counts higher than ever before last year. But fashion industry employment in the neighborhood dropped 9 percent, the steepest one-year decline in the past 15 years.

This story first appeared in the May 18, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

That was just some of the news spelled out by executive director Barbara Randall during the Fashion Center Business Improvement District’s annual meeting last week.

The number of workers manufacturing apparel and textiles in the district slid 19.3 percent to 8,115, and the base for wholesaling apparel fell 10 percent to 14,377. Randall chalked that up to “obviously a result of the recession. However, this is part of a steady decline that has been occurring over the last 60 years.”

As fashion has struggled, other businesses like creative services and nonprofits now make up a larger percentage of the neighborhood, representing 77 percent of the district’s employment compared with fashion’s 23 percent. Randall also mentioned how the neighborhood’s stakeholders and city officials have yet to come up with new zoning for the district, despite a three-year effort. “While zoning discussions seem to be on hold at the moment, the board considers the issue to be vital to the future of the district and will continue to pursue this topic with all parties involved,” she said.

On the upside, last year criminal incidents in the area declined by 9 percent compared with 2008.

In other FCBID matters, Fern Mallis, the Real Estate Board of New York’s Michael Slattery and the Port Authority’s Stephen Napolitano were honored with Fashion Center Awards of Recognition.

Also, LF USA, part of Li & Fung Ltd., will sponsor “The Fashion Center Sidewalk Catwalk.”

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