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Relocating Garment District to Brooklyn Could Be 'Disastrous,' Survey Says

By Maya Rajamani | August 15, 2017 6:05pm
 Paron Fabrics at 257 W. 39th St., near Eighth Avenue.
Paron Fabrics at 257 W. 39th St., near Eighth Avenue.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

GARMENT DISTRICT — The city’s efforts to entice Garment District businesses to Brooklyn as part of a controversial plan to rezone the neighborhood could have "potentially disastrous outcomes" and add up to 90 minutes to workers’ commute times — a hurdle that would dissuade many from keeping their jobs, a new survey found.

The Municipal Arts Society of New York surveyed 234 Garment District business owners and workers and 96 customers who shop in the neighborhood ahead of a Department of City Planning review session focused on the proposed zoning changes scheduled for Aug. 21.

Eighty-three percent of the workers surveyed said their commutes would increase by 45 to 90 minutes, and 80 percent said they would be “unlikely to follow their jobs to the new location” as a result.

Sixty-five percent of customers, meanwhile, would be “unlikely” to travel to Sunset Park, where the city plans to provide space for designers and manufacturers, the survey added.

The survey, conducted in collaboration with the Pratt Center for Community Development and the Design Trust for Public Space, found “potentially disastrous outcomes for the industry should the city’s proposal to remove zoning protections from its Manhattan neighborhood go forward without any new safeguards in place,” the Municipal Arts Society said.

The findings “demonstrate the role of Manhattan’s Garment District as the center of gravity for the industry,” the nonprofit added.

The society's survey comes on the heels of one conducted by the nonprofit arm of the Garment Center Supplier Association, which found that 88 percent of the Garment District-based factory owners it surveyed would rather shut down than move out of Midtown.

Thirty-five percent of the workers and business owners the society surveyed said they live outside of the five boroughs, and less than 1 percent said they lived in Brooklyn.

Eighty-four percent of the business owners who responded called for the implementation of rent-stabilization measures in the Garment District, and 80 percent said they would move somewhere within the district itself if they could secure “long-term lease protections,” the survey said.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation didn’t immediately provide a comment on the survey Tuesday.