New York City officials have hammered out a plan to end a decades-old zoning regulation that protects manufacturing space in Manhattan’s historic Garment District and replaces it with programs designed to keep some of the industry in Midtown.
The plan, which is expected to be announced within days, would achieve a major goal of the real-estate industry, which has long sought to end the zoning. Landlords have argued it preserves more space than declining garment-production businesses can fill.
Advocates of New York City’s fashion industry, who have battled to maintain the zoning, expressed support for much of the proposal, which was circulating behind the scenes last week. These proponents have argued that a vibrant Midtown presence remains critical to the local industry, which relies on a network of services that offer speed and efficiency. Advocates also recognize that foreign competition and other forces have caused the industry to hemorrhage tens of thousands of jobs, and they have been open to replacing the zoning with other programs.
The plan worked out by City Hall, elected officials and advocates on both sides of the issue would lift a 1987 mandate to preserve millions of square feet of apparel-production space on certain side streets in the Garment District, which is bounded roughly by West 40th and West 35th streets and Broadway and Ninth Avenue. If approved by the city council, the proposal would allow property owners to convert buildings to other uses, such as office space.
The plan would preserve a garment-industry presence in Midtown partly by using up to $20 million in city funds to acquire a building dedicated to manufacturers. The plan also includes a tax abatement for Garment District landlords who set aside at least 25,000 square feet in their buildings for manufacturers.
“I don’t view this as a win for the real-estate industry,” said James Patchett, chief executive of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “It was a win for the garment industry because we have been watching for…the last few decades the decline of the garment industry in New York.”
The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, last spring first proposed eliminating the special zoning, but that triggered fierce opposition from fashion-industry advocates who felt it didn’t include enough to preserve a portion of the industry in Midtown.
The latest plan incorporates recommendations from a committee of the Garment District’s various stakeholders including Council of Fashion Designers of America and Garment District Alliance. Representatives of the garment industry who served on that committee say the proposal is more palatable than the earlier plan, which sought to lift the preservation regulations and help businesses relocate to other emerging hubs.
“The Garment Center’s unique ecosystem of skilled workers and specialty suppliers clustered in one place is the foundation that the wider New York fashion world is built on,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer who helped form and lead the steering committee with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “What we’ve negotiated here is a real plan to preserve it for years to come.”
In the Garment District’s heyday, from the 1920s to the 1950s, it was one of the city’s largest employers, with hundreds of thousands of clothing manufacturing jobs. But rising rents and global competition started to take its toll as manufacturers moved jobs overseas. In 1950, apparel-manufacturing jobs in the city numbered 334,182, according to the Garment District Alliance, a group that represents both landlords and businesses. By 1990, the number had dropped to 93,986, the Alliance said. And in April, the city’s apparel manufacturing fell to 11,900, a 7% drop from the prior year, according to the state Labor Department.
About 9 million square feet fall within the boundaries of the 1987 zoning regulation, according to the Alliance. But many landlords are leasing space for uses that don’t comply with those rules. Estimates of the amount of space used for garment production in the zoned area range from 700,000 square feet to 900,000 square feet, according to the Alliance and fashion-industry advocates.
“This plan provides needed investments in the fashion-manufacturing sector, while at the same time removing antiquated zoning restrictions that have simply failed to stop the exodus of jobs overseas,” said Barbara Blair, president of the Alliance, which counts many property owners among its members.
Indeed, even some Garment District proponents have given up space there, pressured by rising real-estate costs. For example, Nanette Lepore, the owner of her eponymous brand, is moving a large part of her operation from the Garment District to about 5,000 square feet of built-out space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She will maintain about 1,100 square feet in the Garment District, where her firm produces about 80% of its product, she said.
“It wasn’t just the cost that got me to the Navy Yards,” Ms. Lepore said. “We’re working in a place with paper makers, artists, jewelry makers and all the food people on the main floor.”
The city plan has a two-pronged approach for manufacturers seeking to stay in the Garment District. Landlords taking advantage of the tax-abatement part would have to lease space for a minimum of 15 years at rents, including expenses such as taxes, capped at $35 a square foot.
Officials with the Economic Development Corporation said they have gained commitments from three owners for space in four buildings, totaling 300,000 square feet.
The other major part of the proposal is the city’s commitment to buy a Garment Center Building with a nonprofit developer, who would operate and manage the property as dedicated production space. TThe city said it would issue a request for proposals for the building acquisition in the fall.Some proponents of preserving the District said they are concerned that the city’s efforts to acquire permanent space won’t immediately begin. Meanwhile,he city will launch the public-review process to lift restrictions on June 11, giving advocates limited time to get their constituents up to speed.
“We did want to preserve the manufacturing in what is the center now but be realistic that the growth is outside the district,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said.
“The most important part for manufacturers—the building acquisition—isn’t ready to release,” said Gabrielle Ferrara, a board member with the Garment Center Supplier Association. She added, “Manufacturers would like to acquire a permanent space so they can directly control their future.”
Web & Domain Protection Software Market SWOT Analysis by Key Players: Leaseweb, Namecheap, SiteLock, Verisign, Sucuri
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Chapter 11 Business / Industry Chain (Value & Supply Chain Analysis)
Chapter 12 Conclusions & Appendix
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BY SYLVIA SANCHEZ
Bombastic barrister Michael Avenatti facing new indictment for Nike ‘shakedown’
Prosecutors slapped trash-talking attorney Michael Avenatti with a new charge Wednesday for his alleged shakedown of Nike while also reducing the legal risk for celeb lawyer Mark Geragos, who is implicated in the case.
The new indictment filed in Manhattan Federal Court eliminated conspiracy charges against Avenatti, who is accused of attempting to extort the shoe giant for more than $20 million or he’d go public with claims the company secretly paid college basketball prospects.
Avenatti and Geragos were representing Gary Franklin Sr., a prominent figure in the youth basketball world, when prosecutors say Avenatti crossed the line from legal advocate to criminal.
A conspiracy charge requires an agreement with a second person, raising the possibility that Geragos was the other person involved in the alleged extortion plot. But in the new indictment, prosecutors replaced two conspiracy charges with an honest services fraud charge against Avenatti. The evidence in the case remains the same.
“I’ll go take $10 billion off your client’s market cap… I’m not f—–g around,” Avenatti told Nike lawyers on March 20, according to a criminal complaint.
Avenatti, 48, demanded Nike hire him and Geragos to conduct an internal investigation paying up to $25 million, the complaint reads.
Avenatti has pleaded not guilty and said he’s the victim of “vindictive prosecution” due to his criticism of President Trump. As part of his defense, Avenatti seeks to introduce evidence of Nike payments to college basketball players.
Geragos, a Los Angeles-based attorney who has represented celebrities including Winona Ryder, Kesha, Colin Kaepernick and Michael Jackson, did not respond to an email. He has not been charged.
“I am extremely pleased that the two counts alleging I engaged in a conspiracy against Nike have just been dismissed by Trump’s DOJ. I expect to be fully exonerated when it is all said and done,” Avenatti tweeted.
A trial is set for January.
Avenatti is separately charged in Manhattan with stealing $300,000 from a book deal made by his former client, porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had an affair with Trump. Avenatti became famous in large part through his aggressive representation of Daniels.
By STEPHEN REX BROWN
Elon Musk picks Berlin for Tesla’s Europe Gigafactory
Elon Musk said Tuesday during an awards ceremony in Germany that Tesla’s European gigafactory will be built in the Berlin area.
Musk was on stage to receive a Golden Steering Wheel Award given by BILD.
“There’s not enough time tonight to tell all the details,” Musk said during an on stage interview with Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess. “But it’s in the Berlin area, and it’s near the new airport.”
Tesla is also going to create an engineering and design center in Berlin because “I think Berlin has some of the best art in the world,” Musk said.
Musk took to Twitter after the ceremony and provided a bit more detail, including that this factory will build batteries, powertrains and vehicles, beginning with the Model Y.
Will build batteries, powertrains & vehicles, starting with Model Y
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 12, 2019
Diess thanked Musk while on stage for “pushing us” towards electrification. Diess later said that Musk and Telsa is demonstrating that moving towards electrification works.
“I don’t think Germany is that far behind,” Musk said when asked about why German automakers were behind in electric vehicles. He later added that some of the best cars in the world are made in Germany.
“Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding and that’s part of the reason we’re locating our gigafactory Europe in Germany,” Musk said.
By Kirsten Korosec
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