Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Park it Here: Has Whole Foods Rejected Gowanus Green Roof?

As we noted noted before, two Brooklynites behind the Green Roof Whole Foods Market blog have proposed that the big retailer include a green roof as part of its Gowanus market on Third Street, which is slated to open in 2008. (Assuming the site's dubious environmental heritage and the "toxic plume" that may be coming from next door don't cause problems, literally or figuratively.) Well, it turns out Whole Foods seems to have already said "no thanks" to the green roof idea. A story in the Carroll Gardens Courier says that Whole Foods says it has sent a letter to the green roof advocates that it considered a green roof "early in the design phase" but that "we subsequently determined that a green roof simply would not be feasible for this particular project."

Which is where it gets interesting. Madalyn Warren, one of the people pushing the interesting green roof idea and a founder of Eidolon Culture, tells GL that "we never received any correspondence from Whole Foods" and that "we haven't recieved any direct feedback from Whole Foods other than, wait until after the holidays, we are too busy right now." She says the green roof project "is still being pushed forward" and expects to have a discussion with the retailer now that the holidays are over. Meanwhile, the Courier quotes from another letter sent by a Whole Foods exec to Community Board 6 saying, "Whole Foods Market has never been approached directly by these individuals."

A veteran PR firm, Yoswein New York Inc., which includes handling land use projects on its list of services, is working for Whole Foods. Among the efforts on which the firm--which was founded by former New York State Assemblymember Joni A. Yoswein--has worked are helping Ikea gain approval for store on the Todd Shipyards site in Red Hook and fighting moves to ban playing the Mr. Softee jingle. The green roof advocates have been in contact with the Yoswein firm, and also say they are interested in "brokering an environmental community benefits agreement" with Whole Foods.

One reason Whole Foods cites for rejecting a "green roof" is that it is planning a 177-car parking lot for the roof in question. (There will also be a 480-car garage on the site.) The 66,000-square-foot Whole Foods could attract as many as 1,800 cars an hour at peak times.

Will the Gowanus Whole Foods have a green roof or will the only greenery be the occasional bag of organic spinach dropped by a shopper? Stay tuned.

GOWANUS BONUS: The Brooklyn Papers' Ariella Cohen reported in the most recent edition of the paper that workers at the Verizon facility across the street from the Whole Foods site have filed a complaint because workers weren't told that carcinogenic benzene is beneath the site. Local 109 of the Communication Workers of America says Verizon may have violated state safety laws by not informing workers that they are working on top of a "toxic plume" that includes benzene. The site at Third Avenue and Third Street, across from the Whole Foods parcel, was used as a fuel station until the late 1990s. The tanks were removed, but Cohen notes that Department of Envirnmental Conservation records show five oil spills at the site. Verizon says "in all liklihood, we are not the source of the problem," meaning the "toxic plume" that is said to have spread to the Whole Foods site and that it is moving in the general direction of Park Slope. More than 11,000 tons of contaminated soil have already been removed from the Whole Foods site. Because of zoning for the site, standards for the cleanup--up to 25 percent of the cost borne by taxpayers--will be less stringent than for other types of development such as housing.

Related Post:
Green Roof for Gowanus Whole Foods?


Blogger Madalyn Warren said...

Park Slope Civic Council Meeting + GREEN ROOFS

Marni Horwitz is giving a presentation to the Park Slope Civic Council Thursday night, 1/4/07 at 7 pm at Park Slope's Methodist Hospital. The presentation will discuss our proposal to Whole Foods to integrate a green roof into the design of their new location in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

Marni will specifically be addressing why Whole Foods should look at all the options and creative designs available before declaring a green roof impossible due to rooftop parking. At this meeting Whole Foods representatives will be presenting information about their new store. But the council has invited Marni to share our point of view after Whole Foods has finished.

Jan 4, 7pm Park Slope Civic Council Board of Trustees Monthly Meeting.
NY Methodist Hospital, Executive Dining Room; 6th Street (7/8 Aves).
All are welcome.

Park Slope Civil Council

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1800 cars an hour? That's positively anti-urban. I, for one, promise to never shop at such an abomination.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHy id this company bring a suburban food distribution model to a community that has a clon cultural history of walking to collect our daily bread?

9:19 AM  

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