Pratt Center Project

Urban Manufacturing

Keeping Jobs in Fashion

Protecting Manhattan's Garment Center and a Thriving Fashion Industry in NYC

New York City’s Garment Center continues to be the greatest concentration of fashion-related businesses in the world. It is a complex ecosystem that includes designers and sewers, students and sample-makers, models, truckers, button merchants and more.

However, the industry and the city’s economy have changed dramatically since the protective zoning for apparel production in the Garment Center was created more than 30 years ago. Most stakeholders agree that the current protection mechanism is no longer an effective strategy for supporting the fashion industry and that new strategies must be put in place to secure the long-term viability of the garment industry in Midtown Manhattan. Pratt Center has been a vocal advocate for the Garment Center for decades, crafting new solutions to preserve production space so fashion-related businesses can continue to invest and thrive.

In 2017, the City proposed a plan to lift the zoning restrictions in the Garment Center and encourage companies to move to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Pratt Center along with a wide range of stakeholders argued vociferously that a Midtown solution must be put in place.  After a year of deliberation between the City and the Garment Center Steering Committee, co-chaired by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, the City is once again initiating lifting zoning restrictions but this time coupled with plans to preserve a minimum of 300,000 square feet of production space in Midtown.  The City's strategies include:

  • Allocating up to $20 million in city capital for a non-profit industrial developer to acquire and manage apparel production space indefinitely.  This is a strategy Pratt Center has been calling upon the City to pursue for over a decade
  • A tax abatement program to encourage building owners in the Garment Center to preserve production space in their buildings
  • A grant program to support apparel manufacturers to purchase new equipment and train workers

In the coming months, Pratt Center will continue to work with the City, the NYC Council Speaker, the Manhattan Borough President, and the other members of the Garment Center Steering Committee to work out the fine details of these strategies to preserve an even greater amount of affordable, stable apparel production space in the Garment Center.

To see a summary of Pratt Center’s Garment Center research and advocacy efforts, click here.

Read Pratt Center's Statement upon City Planning’s certification of a zoning change to eliminate the Special Garment Center District here.