A former New York diamond dealer who has become a property mogul is aiming to fundamentally transform the city’s Diamond District, according to a report in the New York Post. Gary Barnett has spent years buying 10 buildings in the Diamond District’s 47th Street, 46th Street and Fifth Avenue corridor, and his plan is to demolish them all — perhaps to build a giant diamond hotel, the report says. “We don’t know what he’ll build there. It will all depend on financing,” a source said, adding that jewelers, gem cutters and diamond exchanges are worried about being priced out of the area.
Barnett’s new plans have the potential to cast a shadow over the Diamond District, insiders say. He previously developed the International Gem Tower at 50 W. 47th St. The 34-story Gem Tower building, designated as a foreign trade zone, was supposed to be the first commercial condo building for the diamond, gem and jewelry industry, but it is filled with vacancies. The Diamond District is New York's largest manufacturing industry, with diamond and jewelry sales accounting for $24.2 billion a year in sales, according to Michael Grumet, executive director of the 47th Street Business Improvement District.