• The Third Avenue Whole Foods Has Broken Ground

    For better or worse, it begins.

    The long-delayed and much ballyhooed Whole Foods on Third Ave and Third Street has finally begun construction. The ground has been leveled off, about half a dozen large work vehicles are on the site, and a pile-driver has already buried several piles into the ground (audible from several blocks away during day-time work hours).

    Whole Foods Construction

    Read more ›

  • Whole Foods Gets Variance – the Wars Over (?)

    Photograph provided by Eymund Diegel taken July 2011 of Whole Foods Site by the Gowanus Canal Conservancy's 'Gowanus Low Altitude Mapping program' (Liberty Industrial Gases donated the balloons helium used to take the shot)

    It’s official after 8 years Whole Foods Market has received everything it needs to build its Whole Foods store here in Gowanus. On Tuesday afternoon the Board of Standards and Appeals gave a variance for food, which was the last hurdle the national food chain needed to begin construction on its 3rd Ave. and 3rd St. location. There was a mixed bag of emotions from locals. Some are very happy about getting an organic market, while others are not excited that a food chain store will be moving into the area. One of those less than pleased about the Boards decision is the Gowanus Institute who recently proposed a different alternative for the Whole Food’s Gowanus site. The Institute posted a statement on their Facebook page saying they were:

    disappointed by NYC Board of Standards and Appeals decision to grant…the variance to build a large, suburban-style retail food market in an area that has been a haven for well-paying manufacturing jobs protected by New York City’s zoning law and economic policies.”

    The Institute went further in detail with their disappointment by saying:

    If BSA [Board of Standards and Appeals] could so easily determine that manufacturing is not viable at the WFM [Whole Foods Market] site, then the standard for a variance must be so low that the developer of any site could carry out similar plans by pursuing the same process–one that not only completely undermines zoning law, but more importantly eliminates the opportunity for the public to participate in decisions about development in their communities.”

    While on the other side of the spectrum the Gowanus Alliance, who represents many industrial businesses in the area, posted utter jubilation about the Board’s decision on their Facebook page:

    Congratulations whole foods. Congratulations to the people of Gowanus!!!!!!!!!”

    The Alliance even specifically called on Whole Foods to reach out to the community it will now be apart of by saying:

    Lets hope whole foods, can reach out to our members for local services….we are iron workers, we are glass manufacturers, we are refrigeration contractors,, we are [have] contractors…We are the manufacturers of Gowanus.”

    Two very different opinions on an issue that will surely change Gowanus. It is likely that the store will bring many people from all over Brooklyn to Gowanus, but will it be a blessing for the industrial art neighborhood or will it be a curse? only time will tell.

    The big question is whether or not the battle for Whole Foods is truly over? With years of media outlets saying “Whole Foods coming to Gowanus”, its hard to believe that its actually going to be built. Whole Foods is surely eager to build and we will keep to up-to-date on construction as it happens and information on what’s going on with the Coignet building on the corner of 3rd Ave. and 3rd St.

    Discovered via Brownstoner


    *we do know that the media will eat this story up and reporters are rolling into Gowanus to get their photo op and sound bite.

    Hey reports, be sure to shop local while you’re here. Not only do we have some tasty food and great boutiques, we also have a Super Canal that you could write about some more. 

  • The Whole Foods War: Alternative Building Proposal

    Late Friday the Gowanus Institute (GI) sent out a proposal for a building something other than 78000 sq. ft. Whole Foods store at 3rd Ave. and 3rd St. This location is up for debate (vote set for Feb 28th) by the NYC Board of Standards And Appeals over whether or not Whole Foods Markets can use a variance to allow food, which is again area zoning regulation (…aka if Whole Foods can actually sell food). It’s also the same location that the Gowanus Institutes (GI) did an independent study on that showed the Whole Foods proposed store would dramatically increase traffic in the area.

    SouthWest View

    So, what does the Gowanus Institute want to build at this site instead of a Whole Foods store? a park? a gondola factory for the Canal when it’s cleaned? a spaceport? None of these actually! The Gowanus Institutes (GI) new plans call for two large buildings at the site with one building offering culinary arts & food production and the other building for creative and green industries. The new buildings known as Gowanus Industrial Park: A Center for Culinary and Industrial Innovation (CICI) would offer :

    vocational training, business incubation and support services for entrepreneurs in the culinary and creative

    Top View - 3rd St. at top and 3rd Ave. on left side

    The mixed use space would be like a Foodie version of the Old Can Factory combined with the Brooklyn Creative league and the 3rd Ward.

    The proposal doesn’t get rid of Whole Foods either. Specifically the building closet to 3rd Avenue (yellow one above), which would be four stories with 75,000 sq ft of space, could be:

    developed and operated by WFM [Whole Foods Market] as a state-of-the-art commercial food production and training facility as well as a kitchen incubator.”

    The proposal goes on to say that Whole Foods should have a store front in this building that offers locally made products from the new rooftop farm! (Fabulous rooftop farm? What? ) This would be a green roof on both buildings and would be a 1.5 acre farm run by locals, but managed by Whole Foods.

    The other building, which would be five stories with 295,000 sq ft of space, would be used for the Creative & Green industries to manufacture their own items. (Sort of what many artist already do in the area.) Any remaining space would be used for research & development and related commercial uses.

    NorthEast View

    Gowanus Institutes (GI) says that the new buildings would connected by a public plaza and that the Coignet Building, the little historic building on the corner of 3 Ave. and 3rd St., should be turned into a “Museum of Industry” to highlight industrial innovation. It also notes that its buildings accounts for parking at the facility with a parking lot on-site that holds 350 cars and is +/- 21′ above sea level to account for flooding issues. Plus, they left room for public access to the Canal and even space for light water taxis.

    SouthWest View

    Gowanus Institutes (GI) press release of the proposal is available here and the images of the proposed buildings are here.

    More information on the GI’s website: www.GowanusInstitute.org


  • Crain’s: Local’s War on Whole Foods

    Crain’s New York highlights the fiery discussion about Whole Foods coming to Gowanus. Crain explains that some Gowanus locals are not so keen on the idea of the whole foods and also got a very interesting quote from Gowanus Institute‘s Jennifer Gardner, who said: “Let’s be clear. We’re not opposed to opening a Whole Foods in Brooklyn”.

    Read it here: Gowanus locals wage final Whole Foods fight

  • Petition to Approve Whole Foods – (The Whole Foods War)

    Earlier this week a petition popped up to keep Whole Foods from achieving special dispensation to annex part of the Coignet building site; last week the Gowanus Institute launched its campaign against Whole Foods; Also, last week the BSA delayed a vote for another month on a variance for allowing food at the Whole Foods site.

    But that was then and this is now…

    The Gowanus Alliance is a group that represents a (large) variety of businesses within Gowanus and have personally helped community by getting trees at Ennis Park. Yesterday, we discovered (or saw in a tag on FB), that the group is promoting a petition in favor of the Whole Foods. The petition explains that Whole Foods has:

    ….proven they are socially, environmentally and economically responsible company.”

    It  also states:

    Products sold at WHOLE FOODS are products that are responsible for thousands of jobs at hundreds of companies run by fine people. Many of these companies are local businesses.”

    You can review the petition here

    Some may agree with what this petition is saying, while others may disagree. It seems that the building of the Whole Foods store connotes a very strong opinions for and against. As stated before… some in the Gowanus area (and throughout Brooklyn) believe the Whole Foods store will finally make Gowanus into a strong and healthy neighborhood, while others believe Whole Foods will mark the death of a community. This war between the two opinions looks to be just starting. One can expect more evidence from both sides to come out in the next few weeks.     …the battle continues…


    *although GYFO attempts to be a neutral site with snarky comments here and there, this particular issue lacks the full neutrality that it deserves. Whole Foods is a place that we personally shopped for a good portion of our lives, but Whole Foods also represents a type of store that has inadvertently or purposely pushed out the smaller stores under the flag of “American competitive business”. If you drive from Upstate New York all the way to Brooklyn you’ll run into ghost towns that have boarded businesses closed by lack of foot traffic… that is, all closed except giant big box stores that now house all the products that once were sold and even produced in the area. We felt it was necessary to point out that we have an opinion that could possible seep into the reporting of the Whole Foods issue. 


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