Even as skyrocketing rents and labor costs, coupled with aging machinery and brisk overseas competition, have caused entire blocks of Manhattan’s once-fabled Garment District to shutter, New York City officials remain hopeful that a new manufacturing paradigm could still rise from the ashes. At his State of the City address on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio described a plan to transform Bush Terminal in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park into a sprawling $136 million “Made in New York” hub for the apparel, film, and TV industries. The the “best-in-class” facilities, which will include renovations of two existing warehouses to create 200,000 square feet of garment-manufacturing space, will support 1,500 permanent jobs and create more than 800 construction jobs, de Blasio said.
The Sunset Park jobs will be part of the 100,000 “good-paying jobs” the city plans to add within the next decade, including 40,000 over the next four years.
“Good-paying jobs are the bedrock of strong city,” de Blasio said. “We will continue to invest in the ‘Made In New York’ brand and in New Yorkers. This is still your city, today, and tomorrow.”
Expected to open sometime in 2020, the “Made in New York” campus will feature major utility upgrades, a new plaza space, and pedastrian-friendly enhancements such as an improved 43rd St. corridor within the campus, officials said. There will also be a newly constructed 100,000-square-foot space for film and TV production.
“Investing in Sunset Park is investing in the sunrise of a new and prosperous day for Brooklyn’s economic future,” said Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams. “I thank Mayor de Blasio for his commitment to Bush Terminal, and I look forward to working in partnership with his administration and local stakeholders to ensure we manufacture a community-driven plan for this capital investment that will benefit this borough for years to come.”
Clusters of garment and textile initiatives, including $35 million design-and-production center Manufacture NY, already call Sunset Park home. In neighboring southwest Williamsburg, Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, a small-run production facility and business incubator for designers, likewise holds court.
“The Mayor has just put a stake in the ground for New York City to be a leader in connecting design to manufacturing in the 21st century,” said Debera Johnson, executive director of the BF+DA. “The BF+DA is putting substantial focus on R&D prototyping to produce garments that are activated by technology—it’s a revolution that will redefine the industry and revitalize the city’s fashion economy.”
The New York Garment District is dead; long live the New York Garment District.