Friday, November 17, 2006

Ceremonial Groundbreaking for Gowanus Whole Foods

Whole Foods held the long-awaited groundbreaking in Gowanus yesterday for their 68,000 square foot store at Third Avenue and Third Streets. The store will include a three-story, 430-car parking garage in addition to surface parking. According to a release made available by Borough President Marty Markowitz the store "will feature unique Brooklyn touches like egg-cream and gelato stations."

The site has had a troubled environmental history. Toxic problems were discovered that brought construction to a halt and, then, Whole Foods purchased additional property next to the site. Neighborhood groups have complained that they have not been given key environmental documents by the state. The site continues to have a large pool of water from groundwater seepage.

In any case, the new mega-store is slated to open in Spring 2008 and is certain to fundamentally change Gowanus as we know it. The release boasts of 500 permanent jobs (Whole Foods is a non-union employer. It is, in fact, the nation's second-largest non-union food retailer after Wal-Mart.) and of a "Community Room" at the supermarket "available to local civic groups." The design (a rendering of which was held up at the groundbreaking, but that is not available online) preserves the recently landmarked two-story, 19th century brick building situated at the property's corner. It also includes "a landscaped, publicly accessible 40-foot-wide waterfront esplanade along the Gowanus Canal." (We're hoping for better design and more pleasant siting than the benches placed along the Gowanus in the Lowe's parking lot.)

“Whole Foods Market will be a welcome anchor to the neighborhood we now call ‘Brooklyn’s Venice,’” Borough President Markowitz said. “As the newest waterfront addition knitting together the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook, we’re putting the ‘Go’ in Gowanus!”

The development has gone forward in a very incremental way and skirted much of the local planning process because of the "as of right" nature of the project. As such, it has been able to avoid groups in the neighborhood that might have raised questions about issues such as traffic impact and enviromental quality. The Whole Food people will make a presentation to "the community" at a meeting of the Park Slope Civic Council on December 7. One local source was unimpressed, saying, "Nearly every large very local development brings their dog-and-pony show by in order to be able to tell politicians that they are meeting with "the community."

It's estimated that the big store will attract more than a thousand new cars an hour--and possibly as many as 1,800 an hour--to Park Slope and Gowanus.


Blogger Klaus Kinloch said...

I wonder what "publicly accessible 40-foot-wide waterfront esplanade along the Gowanus Canal." will actually mean once the place is built?

Bet any shutterbug loitering with a camera will be kicked off before they can say "I thought this was publicly acces..."

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a wetlands!
What will happen here when more intense storms hit this area?
Does Whole Foods expect FEMA to bail them too?
More federal money to cover the State money paying for this development?

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why so much surface parking? Ick! What a waste of land.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is gross. is this really necessary?!

1:19 PM  
Blogger bicycle13 said...

Markowitz didn't put the "GO" in Gowanus, but he sure is putting in the "anus".

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been a long time fan of Whole Foods Market, Inc. (Nasdaq WFMI), the largest distributor of organic food products in America. What I like best about the company is that it provides organic products that are certified organic, meaning the fruits and vegetables they sell are grown under stricter guidelines than your average farmer's market. Of course, it comes at a price and Whole Foods is facing an identity crisis.

Read More about Whole Foods Helping Local Organic Farmers

4:17 AM  
Blogger Yung Oh said...

Doesn't Whole Foods require farmers to produce a minimum with no commitment to buy?

12:14 PM  

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