As it creates new fashion hub in Midtown, the city still pegs Sunset Park as next garment district

October 4, 2018

The city is looking to partner with a nonprofit to buy a building in the Garment District that would become a new hub for fashion businesses. The New York City Economic Development Corporation on Thursday released a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) seeking realtors who want to work with the city to acquire a Midtown property, the Commercial Observer first reported. While the city is looking to preserve Midtown’s Garment District, primed for a rezoning, at the same time, it is still luring apparel makers and other manufacturers to Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

As part of the deal announced Thursday, the EDC would provide $20 million, or 30 percent of the purchase price, depending on which is less. The winner of the bid for the project could either enter a joint venture with the agency or the EDC could acquire the building and sign a ground lease with the developer. Preference will be given to proposals from nonprofits and with a building measuring at least 100,000 square feet.

Under the plan, the building must be used for a fashion business and the landlord must participate in the city’s Industrial Agency program created for the district. The program requires property owners to offer 15-year leases with a maximum rent of $35 per square foot, including utilities and other expenses. In return, the owner receives a tax break for 15 years.

“Garment production is critical to New York City’s identity as the fashion capital of the world,” James Patchett, the CEO of EDC, said. “The acquisition of a building in the heart of Manhattan will ensure that garment manufacturing is not only preserved but has a home in the historic Garment Center.”

This venture comes as the city pushes for a rezoning of the Garment District, an area bound by 35th and 40th Streets and Broadway and Ninth Avenue. Once home to hundreds of thousands of fashion jobs, it has lost 85 percent of firms in the last 30 years. The rezoning would allow for more mixed-use development and lifts the 1:1 preservation requirement of production space.

It also creates a new zoning rule that helps limit the construction of hotels by introducing a special permit. To help ease concerns from the community, the city plans to preserve at least 300,000 square feet of production space for the fashion industry.

But some manufacturers see the rezoning as a way to make fashion businesses relocate to Sunset Park, where Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is creating the “Made in NYC Campus” at Bush Terminal. Opening in 2020, the campus will provide affordable facilities for manufacturing, film and media production, and related industries.

The garment manufacturing hub will provide small white-box spaces ranging from 2,000 to 20,000 square feet to companies working in pattern making, cutting and sewing, sample making, and more. The hub will support between 25 and 35 tenants.


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