The Sit-Down

David Winoker: Call It Whatever You Want, It’s Always the Garment Center

img dave winoker 100504 David Winoker: Call It Whatever You Want, Its Always the Garment CenterAs president of Winoker Realty, David Winoker has greatly expanded the firm from its relatively modest roots under his father’s leadership. Its presence is most conspicuous in the Garment Center, where a majority of the firm’s 32 properties reside. Mr. Winoker, 48, spoke with to The Observer earlier this month about that neighborhood’s present and what he has in mind for its future.

The Observer: Winoker has a large portfolio of assets in the Garment Center. Where is the neighborhood heading and where is it at now, tenant-wise?

Mr. Winoker: It’s changed over the years and you have more office tenants continually signing leases in this neighborhood. It still has excellent transportation and subway access, and a lot of the buildings have undergone major renovations and redevelopment. So it’s not purely garment anymore.

Clearly, we still have buildings that will house showrooms and dress companies. They’re here and they’ll be here for a long time. But the world has changed, and it’s been changing for years.

What is the tenant makeup that you see now?

It’s general office tenants. It could be accountants, engineers, architects, technology firms. You’re near Penn Station and the Port Authority, so it’s mixed.

 

Is there any kind of tenant these buildings are particularly suited for, considering that, with so much showroom space, most of the properties have high ceilings?

I wouldn’t say there’s any one particular tenant. I’ve seen a range of tenants coming into this area.

 

Is this something that Winoker is embracing, or are there enough garment tenants to maintain the status quo in the neighborhood?

It’s building-by-building and block-by-block—meaning that there are certain buildings that are already established showroom buildings that will remain, and there are other buildings that have transformed into office-type properties. We are embracing it because you have to adapt to the market, and you can’t sit around saying, ‘no, we’re only going to rent to one type of tenant.’ You have to adjust.

 

Considering those adjustments, how do you feel about the neighborhood holding on to the ‘Garment Center’ moniker? I know brokers who’d love to see a name change.

They’ve changed it into, I heard, Fashion District, and then it became Times Square South. A lot of different names have been used to describe this neighborhood.

jsederstrom@observer.com