Fashion Industry threatened as de Blasio fast tracks rezoning
De Blasio and his administration have been promoting the plan to move design and manufacturing to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. While the intentions seem good, the proposal has been made without the support of the Garment Center Supplier Alliance, organized labor, and the many designers that depend on these vital resources.
Mainstream news, such as the New York Times, has praised Sunset Park as a positive step towards protecting the longevity of the NYC fashion industry. GCSA, the union, and manufacturing parties have largely remained silent on the issue. After all, manufacturing still currently has zoning protection in the Garment Center (midtown West in Manhattan), which requires landlords to have a certain percentage of manufacturers in their buildings, keeping rent affordable for the industry.
Designers and consulting businesses are able to take advantage of the competitive rates at the new Sunset Park facilities, but members of GCSA have shown to be less than receptive to moving their businesses so far away from the major design houses, worker's homes, and colleagues. Many factories would prefer to shut down instead of moving, since a change in location would displace workers and require investments that have not been properly considered by the city. Investing in new manufacturing in the city could have long term positive effects, but doing so at the expense of the established Garment Center is a mistake. We support investments in new areas as well as needed investments in the Garment Center, a move the city says it supports. Re-zoning the Garment Center is inconsistent with this in spirit and in deed.
Starting with the state of the city address, local legislatures reached out to Mayor de Blasio to question his silence regarding the Garment Center as he presented his Sunset Park initiative. Shortly after, it was announced by Manhattan borough President Gail Brewer's office that the city and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) have been planning to remove the zoning protections and are fast tracking approvals as early as this April. So far, De Blasio's office has not offered any comment or information on the proposal.
It has become apparent that Sunset Park is not about investing in Garment Center companies, it's about making a deal to benefit real estate special interest at the expense of Garment Center businesses.