With holiday season just about kicking into high gear, all eyes are on the Garment District.
Every November, the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade makes its way through the neighborhood, ending its route of cartoon balloons and Santa sled floats at the 113-year-old department store on 34th Street (where it occupies an entire city block). Meanwhile, the windows of the neighborhood's department stores, including Macy's, Lord & Taylor, J.C. Penney and H&M, plus its countless fabric and bead shops, are all decked out until the new year.
But it's not just the holiday spirit drawing people to the area, local experts said.
"The neighborhood is quickly becoming a hot spot for new businesses and hotels as well as residential buildings," explained Gabe Scott, director of marketing at In Good Company Hospitality, the food and beverage partner at the Refinery Hotel on West 38th Street. "People want to be in the center of the city without being in Times Square."
Scott added that the Garment District's history is displayed in its unique architecture. "With a lot of the buildings being former locations of fashion industry factories -- the Refinery Hotel was a former hat factory -- they have so much character," he said.
Jana Herman, who has worked near Bryant Park for more than 12 years, has watched the neighborhood change a lot over the years -- for the better, she said.
"With the new Equinox and SoulCycle, plus new restaurants opening here, the neighborhood has finally become a place I enjoy," she said. "It's a great area to meet friends or coworkers after work for drinks; STK and the Refinery Hotel are great spots."
People are also drawn here because of its transit convenience, noted Citi Habitats sales associate Pia Vasquez.
"The location is great. Everything is so close, you basically have every subway line right here and Bryant Park is an escape right here in the city," said Vasquez, who works in the neighborhood and has lived here for more than five years.
There is real estate for every price range, she said, from $500,000 studios to larger condos selling for $3.5 million and up.
While the neighborhood boasts a handful of Duane Reade and CVS stores along with plenty of spots for clothes shopping and more than enough places to go for dinner and drinks, it has no major grocery store -- yet.
A Whole Foods is slated to open on Sixth Avenue near Bryant Park, but for now, locals shop at mini-markets and order from Fresh Direct and other delivery services. Still, residents -- many are students at Parsons School of Design and Fashion Institute of Technology -- don't mind the urban feel of the neighborhood, according to Vasquez.
"People who move here want the full city experience and aren't usually looking for a residential neighborhood," she said. "A lot of them work from home and want to be close to the fabric and bead stores."
With all of the changes and new construction happening, the Garment District is poised to fast become one of the most sought-after neighborhoods.
"A few years from now, the Garment District will be even more established as one of the best places in NYC to live, work and visit," Scott predicted.
Finding the Garment District
The neighborhood boundaries for Garment District are 34th Street to 42nd Street between Fifth and Ninth avenues.
Where to eat in the Garment District
Keens Steakhouse, 72 W. 36th St.: First opened in 1885, this storied landmark eatery has been serving its famous mutton chops to the Garment District ever since. keens.com.
Alidoro, 18 E. 39th St.: The midtown location of this sandwich shop is known for its meaty Italian sandwiches. alidoronyc.com
fabrick, 47 W. 38th St.: Chef David Burke serves up American fare at this restaurant located on the ground floor of the Archer Hotel. davidburkefabrick.com
Where to party
Measure Lounge, 400 Fifth Ave.: Sip on craft cocktails at this sophisticated spot, located on the lobby level of the Langham Place hotel. 212-695-4005
Pig 'N' Whistle, 202 W. 36th St.: Have a seat at the oak wood bar and catch live Celtic music while watching sports and noshing on Irish and American fare. pignwhistleon36th.com
Refinery Rooftop, 63 W. 38th St.: Enjoy sweeping views of the Empire State Building during a night out with friends at this rooftop venue. refineryrooftopnyc.com
Where to shop
B&H, 420 Ninth Ave.: Indulge your inner shutterbug at this massive electronics mecca, featuring one of the best selections of cameras in the city. bhphotovideo.com
Makins Hats, 212 W. 35th St. #12: Buy a handcrafted bespoke hat from this Garment District millinery founded in 1974. makinshats.com
Midtown Comics, 200 W. 40th St.: At the original location of this comic book haven, serious collectors and amateurs alike will be in awe. midtowncomics.com
What to do
Om Factory, 265 W. 37th St.: Learn to fly at an aerial yoga class. omfactorynyc.com
Bryant Park Winter Village, Sixth Avenue and 42nd Street: Ice skate for free at Bryant Park's seasonal Winter Village rink. wintervillage.org
Rock & Soul, 10 W. 37th St.: Learn to DJ at this must-visit shop for spinners that opened in the Garment District in 1975. rockandsoul.com
The buzz about the Garment District
The neighborhood has come a long way over the past few decades.
As its primary industry has shifted away from clothing and over toward TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information) and tourism companies, its real estate has become more upscale, local experts said.
"Over the past 10 years, the changes to this neighborhood have been dramatic," Garment District Alliance President Barbara Randall explained. "A lot of the big advertising and media firms have moved here from Flatiron and Chelsea -- in part due to the competitive rents."
Randall added that 30 new hotels were built in the past decade -- and 10 more are still in the pipeline -- bringing more than 800,000 visitors per year to stay in the Garment District.
"The core is still in design but this is no longer a single industry neighborhood," she said.
The TAMI tenants are continuing to rent out more and more office space in the neighborhood, while hotels like Refinery and Archer have taken over former garment factories.
"The Garment District is an authentic New York City neighborhood," Randall said. "There is a lot of nostalgia and history here."
But high-end residences such as The Atlas, The Orion, Bryant Park Tower and The Townsend provide amenity-packed living spaces for those who are looking for updated housing in the District.
N, Q, R to Times Square/42nd St. and 34th St./Herald Square
1, 2, 3, A, C, E to 42nd St./Port Authority and 34th St./Penn Station
B, D, F, M to 42nd St./Bryant Park and 34th St./Herald Square
Shuttle from Times Square
7 to Fifth Ave. and Times Square/42nd St.
Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak to Penn Station
M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M7, M11, M20, M34, M42, M104, Q32
NYPL Mid-Manhattan, 455 Fifth Ave.
NYPL Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
USPS James A. Farley, 421 Eighth Ave.
USPS Midtown, 223 W. 38th St.
USPS Times Square, 340 W. 42nd St.
USPS Port Authority, 625 Eighth Ave.
The Garment District is covered by the Midtown South Precinct at 357 W. 35th St. In the week of Nov. 16-22, the precinct reported five robberies and nine burglaries in its CompStat report. It reported seven murders and 13 rapes so far in 2015 as of Nov. 22.
Garment District real estate
321 W. 37th St. #8C, One bed, 11/2 baths; $3,745 per month
407 W. 39th St. #3C, Studio, one bath; $1,950 per month
350 W. 42nd St. #11J, Studio, one bath; $825,000
100 W. 39th St. #41I, One bed, one bath; $849,999
425 Fifth Ave. #34A, One bed, one bath; $1,365,000
2015 Garment District data as of Nov. 30:
Median sales price: $2,100,000
Number of units on market: 49
Median rental price: $4,000
Number of rentals on market: 122
Q&A with Steven Cohen: Co-owner of M&J Trimming
Known for its wide selection of fabrics, beads, ribbons, buttons and other design necessities, M&J Trimming at 1008 Ave. of the Americas is now run by Steven Cohen, whose grandfather opened the shop in the 1930s.
How did your grandfather get started in the trimming industry?
It was actually by accident. He was running a linen shop and a friend came and asked for a loan. My father lent him $5 and took a piece of lace as collateral. The lace was sitting on the counter at the linen store, when a customer came and asked to buy it. From then on, my grandfather started selling lace - all because a piece was left out on the counter!
What have you thought of the area over the years?
Over the past 20 years, it has changed a lot. A lot of the people who had businesses here are gone. So many of the stores have closed down, and a lot of hotels have popped up in their place. The hotels bring action but not necessarily clients. It eliminates our competition but the District is slowly going away.
Do you go out in the neighborhood?
I love Keen's, it's a staple. I also like the bar at Bryant Park and Koi at the Bryant Park Hotel. The Skylark is also fantastic, the Refinery Hotel has a great lunch and Keg Room has tons of TVs and is an ideal spot for watching games.
How about Chik-Fil-A?
We are actually their landlord! Since they opened, there is a lot more foot traffic. People are waiting in line for 45 minutes to an hour, but it's all well-controlled and calm. It's been great having them in the area.
Have you had any celebrity clients?
We have had Heidi Klum and Beyoncé. And Lady Gaga loves this place!