De Blasio Administration Unveils Plan to Revamp Garment Center Zoning, Including Further Expansion of Special Permits for HotelsMarch 2017
The Administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, acting through the New York City Economic Development Corporation (“EDC”), recently presented its proposed plan to modify the zoning regulations for the Special Garment Center District – generally located from West 35 to 40th Streets, between Broadway and 9th Avenue.
The Special Garment Center District regulations, created in 1987, were meant to preserve apparel manufacturing space and limit the ability to convert such space for office use. However, according to EDC, garment manufacturing employment has since declined by 83%. Studies have also found that office space conversions are widespread in the District, and without the required 1:1 preservation of manufacturing space. EDC has also found an explosion of hotel development in the area.
The Mayor’s proposal is not expected to change the underlying zoning (predominately M1-6, and C6-4M), and manufacturing will remain a permitted use. Nor will there be increases to permitted floor area or height. Rather, the proposal seeks four main objectives:
1. Lift the preservation requirement for apparel production space, which has proven ineffective in protecting garment manufacturers in the area
2. Limit new hotels in the area by requiring a special permit, which includes a full ULURP public review
3. Prioritize new office and residential creation (where permitted)
4. Improve neighborhood character through new height and setback regulations
In order to win over the garment and fashion industry, the de Blasio Administration proposes a combination of cluster sites for apparel manufacturers elsewhere in the City at reduced rents (including Bush Terminal and Brooklyn Army Terminal in Brooklyn), together with financial grants and technical assistance. Whether these measures can overcome the concerns of these garment and fashion stakeholders remains to be seen.
The environmental review for this proposal is expected to begin later this year, with the completion of ULURP public review in 2018. We are actively following this proposal and will keep you updated.
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