Remaining "forever young"

At the inauguration of Mayor de Blasio, former President Bill Clinton said that New York City is “most famous for its commitment to remain forever young.”  New York is an ever changing, always transforming, city of new beginnings.  The Fashion Center Business Improvement District’s recent rebranding campaign epitomizes what the former President was referring to. 

For two decades, the Fashion Center represented the landlords, hotels, restaurants, bars, retailers, and tech firms that dominate the neighborhood, roughly bound by 5th and 9th Avenues and 35th and 41st streets.  Last fall, the BID renamed itself the Garment District Alliance (“GDA”), the final naming decision following months of deliberation. The move signals the area’s continued transformation while harking back to decades of important City history.

In the early decades of the 20th century, the Garment District stood as the fashion manufacturing capital of the world, producing the lion’s share of women’s and men’s clothing for the entire nation.  The City’s more recent decline in manufacturing threatened to irrevocably alter the neighborhood’s character.  Fortunately, the industry and City banded together to invest in and maintain the area’s identity, which the GDA intends to capitalize on now. 

Barbara Blair Randall, GDA’s president, recognizes the important role diversity plays in the modernization process.  As she has said, the BID’s new name is meant to more fully embrace the authentic early 20th century industrial character that appeals to a wide-spectrum of businesses, not just the fashion industry.  The district is ideal for all types and sizes of companies given its mix of Class A office space and classic loft buildings, coupled with its central location between the nation’s busiest transit hubs.  Many other neighborhoods are doing their best to replicate the variety that naturally occurs in the Garment District.

GDA continues to focus on improving the quality of life and economic vitality of the area through public space and infrastructure improvements, marketing strategies, economic development initiatives, and community outreach.  As a result, vacancy rates are at a 20-year low, as more than 100 tech firms have moved into the area.  There have also been 28 new hotels opened since 2008, with new nightlife attractions popping up seemingly every day.  New investments in the neighborhood’s pedestrian plazas continue to breathe new life into some of the City’s most known streetscapes while preparing the area for new activities.  For instance, the upcoming “Super Bowl Boulevard”, which will span Broadway between 34th and 47th Streets, will feature a variety of pedestrian events.

Thanks in large part to GDA’s efforts, the Garment District is being reborn as a 24/7 modern hub for business, tourism, and entertainment.  We should laud the neighborhood’s continual commitment to capitalizing on the influx of new visitors and workers.  Balancing historic culture with modern demands may prove to be the key to remaining forever young as a City. 

In other REBNY News:

REBNY will host its 118th Annual Banquet on Thursday, January 16th at 7pm at the New York Hilton.  Join us for the event of the year as we honor six great New Yorkers: Stephen L. Green of SL Green Properties, Kenneth Fisher of Fisher Brothers, Joel I. Picket of Gotham Organization, Robin Abrams of The Lansco Corporation, Thomas L. Hill of Boston Properties, and Robert C. Fink of the Winter Organization.  Seats are selling swiftly. Only a small number of tables are left on the main floor of the grand ballroom.  For tickets or advertising information, contact Maryann Aviles at maviles@rebny.com.

REBNY’s Commercial Brokerage Division Board of Directors has also begun accepting nominations for the 2013 REBNY Most Promising Commercial Salesperson of the Year Award.  Please direct your submissions to Eileen Spinola at REBNY, 570 Lexington Avenue, New York NY, 10022.  For more information, please contact Desiree Jones at djones@rebny.com.