At a Manhattan community board meeting Wednesday evening, city officials told garment industry representatives of plans to remove Midtown‘s manufacturing preservation requirement, Crain’s reports. The change to a 1987 zoning rule means that landlords will have the option to rent the formerly set-aside space to commercial office tenants. City officials cited the failure of the preservation effort to meet its goal, highlighted by a reported 83 percent decline the number of garment workers–from 30,000 to 5,100– since it was first implemented. As 6sqft recently reported, the rezoning is seen as “a clear push to drive these businesses toward lower cost space in Sunset Park.”
The city will aid companies that need manufacturing space but can’t afford Midtown rents in finding new space by helping to fund their relocation to Sunset Park, where a new cluster of manufacturing industry spaces has been growing for the past decade. Incentives to relocate include cash subsidies, city officials said. To that end, The city’s Economic Development Corp. plans to dedicate 200,000 square feet of space of a new manufacturing center in Sunset Park to garment makers, to open in 2020.
In the meantime, a 500,000-square-foot local manufacturing space will be available in the fall at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. That initiative is meant to work together with $15 million in related programs including technology grants and other incentives to reverse the manufacturing decline.
Local garment manufacturers have historically played a key role in the city’s fashion industry by being able to oversee quality control, designers, manufacturers and other stakeholders have argued; landlords and city officials say the manufacturing preservation rules are “outdated and unnecessary.”
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