Increasing rent driving fabric shops out of Garment District

Lauren Glassberg Image
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Increasing rent driving fabric shops out of Garment District
Lauren Glassberg has the story

GARMENT DISTRICT, Manhattan (WABC) -- Shuttered gates, padlocks, liquidation sales, line 39th Street as fabric stores are going out of business.

It's right in the heart of the Garment District.

Rates to rent these spaces is doubling and tripling. Royal Fashion Centre has been there for 15 years, but its owner says he's now priced out.

"It's the same situation on 37th and 38th, everywhere, they're increasing the rent and raising prices too much, so we don't think we can afford in this area," Arban Vora said.

Shamai Siddiqi says she's OK for now, but sees what's happening all around her.

A lot of stores closing, big stores close, one across the street after 46 years, one store is open," Siddiqi said.

Elegant Fabric is the only remaining fabric store at street level on 40th Street.

More and more leases are going to chain restaurants or stores with deeper pockets.

It's the evolution of a neighborhood that took root here more than a century ago.

And while manufacturing has waned, there's been a big industry push to keep the Garment District alive and the wide range of jobs that come with it.

"You have designers, sample makers, pattern draping fabric sales, media, all located within these few blocks," said Anthony Lilore, of Save the Garment Center.

Lilore is one of the founders of "Save the Garment Center".

He worries about the domino effect of losing these fabric stores.

"If one of those links of the chain happens to fall out it, it affects everything," Lilore said.

The future of this community is so up in the air it may cease to exist in this area. It may end up moving to Queens or Brooklyn where some designers are already setting up shop.