Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer on Friday lambasted the city’s plans to change zoning in the Garment District, saying that relocating manufacturers will likely push the garment industry out of the city entirely.
Earlier this week, the Economic Development Corporation unveiled plans to lift a 1987 restriction intended to protect garment manufacturers. Under the existing zoning, landlords in the district must set aside a certain amount of space for such businesses. Instead, the city is encouraging manufacturers to rent space in Sunset Park — at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and Bush Terminal — and is using comparatively cheap rents to help sell the move to companies. The EDC also approved a $51 million investment that will, in part, provide grants to cover relocation.
Brewer said the manufacturers that are in the Garment District are there because they need to be. Other businesses in the garment industry will have no reason to stay in Manhattan if the manufacturers leave, she said.
“A plan that eliminates the Garment District’s zoning protections for manufacturing and moves some manufacturers to a remote neighborhood, adding hours or days to the production process and disrupting the ecosystem, sounds like a plan to push the industry out of New York City entirely,” she said. “I urge the administration to start over.”
Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his Made in New York initiative, which includes dedicating $136 million to create manufacturing space at Bush Terminal in Sunset Park. The city has already set aside $115 million to revamp the Brooklyn Army Terminal. The zoning change is being billed as a way to provide much-needed space to manufacturers who are pushed out of the Garment District by high rents.
“There’s a market and a demand for clothes that are Made in New York, and we’re taking bold steps to help firms move to the new space we’ve developed so they can grow and thrive,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said in a statement on Friday. — Kathryn Brenzel