Friday, January 05, 2007

Gowanus Whole Foods #1: The Big Picture

2007_01_Gowanus Whole Foods Rendering

Executives from Whole Foods and the architect of the new Gowanus mega-market were in Park Slope last night to make a presentation to the Park Slope Civic Council. They brought along renderings of the new store, one of which was sent to us by principal architect David Ball of BL Companies.

The 64,000 square foot store is tentatively slated to open in the summer of 2008. It will have parking for 420 cars (120 on the roof and 290 in a garage). The main entrance will be on Third Street, while truck loading will be on Third Avenue. There will be a 40-foot "promenade" along a branch of the Gowanus behind the store. Mr. Ball said the designers had tried to be "responsive" to architecture in the community and noted that the retailer does not own the landmarked Litchfield Building at the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street. The store has been worked around the historic building and designed to blend with it.

The Whole Foods execs fielded a number of questions from Civic Council members about traffic concerns, saying that their studies show the store won't adversely impact the community. The store had been previously reported as possibly generating 1,800 car trips an hour at peak times, but Mr. Ball actually estimates the number at 1,500 per day. Whole Foods Mark Mobley estimated that the store will see 2,500-2,700 "transactions" per day. He added, however, that the retailer "will have to see how it shakes out as the store opens."

While the traffic flow is dramatically lower than had been reported, the Whole Foods figures seem to indicate that as many as 1,000 customers a day will arrive at Third Avenue and Third Streets on foot and by cab. Such a count could be a little on the high side, making the actual traffic figure a little higher. Civic Council members suggested the grocer cut the amount of park to discourage driving, but corporate officials seemed to reject the notion.

Whole Foods officials also rejected the idea of a green roof for the store, said that environmental problems will be remediate and dismissed reports of a "toxic plume" of cancer-causing benzene near the site as "exaggerated and inaccurate."

Related Post:
Gowanus Whole Foods #2: Execs Say Toxics Are Under Control
Gowanus Whole Foods #3: Thumbs Down to Green Roof

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