3rd St. Landmark Crumbling; Is Whole Foods to Blame?

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The single building that escaped demolition on the land occupied by Whole Foods’ massive (and massively fallow) site on 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue is going to seed. The structure, which is owned by the entity that sold off adjacent plots to Whole Foods, was landmarked a couple years ago for being “a pioneering example of concrete construction in the United States.” When it was designated a landmark, LPC Commission Chair Robert Tierney had this to say about it: This mysterious, elegant, small building commands the attention of everyone who passes by it. By designating it as a landmark, we are preserving the last remaining structure of a complex that was one of the first industrial producers of concrete in the nation.” Nowadays, the building’s steps are coming apart, with pieces spilling onto 3rd Avenue, and graffiti’s been painted on it in a few spots. According to a spokesperson for the LPC, the commission has contacted the landmark’s owner on several occasions and gotten it sealed, hence the boarded-up windows. In 2005, when the landmark’s owner hammered out an agreement (as per public records here) to give Whole Foods control of adjacent parcels for the development of its supermarket, it appears the grocer agreed to make structural repairs to the landmark so its owner could obtain a C of O that would allow him to have an intriguing assortment of buildings in the property: offices, an art gallery, and an auto-body supply store. (Paragraph in question from the deal is on the jump.) It’s possible that subsequent agreements between Whole Foods and the building’s owner superseded this, or that Whole Foods has no reason to make improvements to the building until it starts on its own project. Either way, between the barren Whole Foods site and the dilapidated landmark, the corner of 3rd and 3rd currently tells a sorry story about both the past and future of Gowanus.
360 3rd Avenue Landmark Designation [nyc.gov]
Gowanus Whole Foods Site Looks Anonymous & Abandoned [GL]

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