• 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

  • Preserve the Landmark Designation of the Coignet Building at 3rd Ave & 3rd St (Whole Foods War)

    Okay, so there are all sorts of issues with the Whole Foods site at 3rd Ave and 3rd St that have been recently pointed out by the Media. Besides the issues highlighted about traffic and being next to a polluted Canal there is an issue on whether or not Whole Foods can alter a landmarked building to fit their design. We thought they couldn’t, but apparently they might have the ability too. This begs the question of what the hell Landmark Status even means! The building known as the Coignet Building or “that spooky house looking thing at 3rd & 3rd in Gowanus” could be greatly altered to fit with Whole Foods design. Regardless of your feelings on Whole Foods coming to Gowanus, changing a landmark building is not cool (probably an opinion). Sure this particular building needs some major love, but not the kind of love that makes restoration into reconstruction. So, the Historic District Council has setup a petition to sign against such crazy changes. Take a look at all the information before you sign and only sign if you agree that the building should only be restored not redesigned (this includes the land plot that currently cuts into the Whole Foods design).


    more info visit here

  • Gowanus Institute… The Whole Foods War

    There are a lot of issues in the Gowanus neighborhood. Some of them controversial, some of them not so controversial. A more controversial issue is the building of Whole Foods at 3rd Ave and 3rd St. The opinions behind this particular issue varies wildly. Those who are for it believe it will help Gowanus to be ‘the next big neighborhood’ and strengthen the economics within the area. Those against it believe it will kill a unique neighborhood and make way for a corporate group which will destroy local businesses. Issues like these are hard to sort out. But one should take a look at all the data available. One such group that is against the Whole Food site has put together some compelling information that is worth reviewing. This group called the Gowanus Institute describes itself as

    an independent think tank dedicated to realizing the most productive physical, cultural and economic development in the Gowanus neighborhood that will enrich its working and living communities as well as the city with a balanced set of environmental & social profits, economic value and fiscal benefit.”

    So basically the group has been formed to figure out what to do with all the dramatically changes in the neighborhood. The current issue of the building of Whole Foods in Gowanus is taking center stage and for good reason. This issue will change Gowanus forever. Despite public forums many of the more controversial parts of the Whole Foods plan have not been highlighted by the media. (To be fair the media just looks for its tag line, which is easier to get in a press release than a public forum; even GYFO does it.)

    The Gowanus Institute did an independent study of the Whole Foods site and discovered that there are many problems with the design for the mega-store. There study finds that with the Whole Foods there will be a massive increase in traffic in the area.  They also point out that the purpose site of 3rd Ave. and 3rd St. is located in a flood zone and on the banks of the Superfunded (really polluted) Gowanus Canal.

    Take a look at their findings, their petition to prevent the building of Whole Foods at 3rd Ave, and more information on their site: www.GowanusInstitute.org

    Most of all make your own opinion and make your voice heard.


Gowanus, Brooklyn

The crack between two hipster neighborhoods, home to the now superfunded Canal, the flash point for the new 'Buy Local' and textile revolutions, & filled with brilliant bohemians. . . this is Gowanus & it’ll awesome your face off.

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