Garment District Committee Discusses $4.5M Zone Revitalization

The Garment District local planning committee met Wednesday morning for the first in a series of meetings slated under the state’s district revival initiative.

In February, New York Governor Kathy Hochul granted the storied garment zone $4.5 million through the state’s NY Forward program for neighborhood revitalization. In all, the NY Forward program mobilizes $100 million to support equitable recovery, following the COVID-19 pandemic, mirroring that of a previous successful initiative called Downtown Revitalization.

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The Garment District, per local nonprofit Garment District Alliance’s formal definition, encompasses 24 blocks, 6,500 businesses, 75,000 employees and is visually denoted by a colossal yellow button statue, balanced on a 28-foot-high needle on Seventh Avenue at 39th Street. The district is among the least populated neighborhoods in New York City and has struggled to balance its fashion history with commercial and residential rezoning. The pandemic-spawned business closures, hotel vacancies and crime (a rise also reported by garment manufacturers) only added to these challenges.

At the time, Hochul said the investment will enhance the fashion capital with “placemaking” and “public realm improvements” that will guide the way through the district’s next century. Under Hochul’s “plan-then-act” strategy, businesses and local stakeholders are in charge of steering the funding, maintenance, improvement and promotion of their commercial districts.

The garment district local planning committee will meet roughly five times to develop the strategic investment plan. Meetings are open to the public and anyone is welcome to attend in part or in full. Katie Sue Nicklos, chief executive officer of Wing & Weft Gloves, is the sole factory representative on the local planning committee. The glove-making business, which she’s helmed since in 2017, has been around since 1973.

In an email, Nicklos said she is proud to represent the historic neighborhood and looks forward to subsequent meetings (though dates are not yet set). She is eager to showcase progress to Hochul, ensuring businesses like hers not only stay put but benefit amid growing commercial needs.

While the first meeting set the tone for the action plan, with attendees voicing challenges and opportunities for neighborhood improvements in the Garment District, the following meetings will outline specific fundable projects.

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