After months and years of uncertainty (mostly relating to environmental issues), Whole Foods has officially decided to go ahead with its plans to build its first Brooklyn store at the corner of 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue in Gowanus. At 52,000 square feet, the new store will be about 25% smaller than the one initially spec’d for the site; it will also include a 40-foot public esplanade (presumably along the canal) and a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse on the roof. Here’s the emailing confirming it sent out a couple of hours ago by Mark Mobley of Whole Foods to Craig Hammerman, the District Manager of Community Board 6:
I am writing with some extremely positive news: Whole Foods Market is now officially moving forward with the development of our first ever Brooklyn store located on our property at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street! We want to thank you and the entire community for your patience as we’ve worked to revise our plans and clean up the property. We’re also proud to have finalized a development plan and are confident that Whole Foods Market will be a terrific addition to the neighborhood.
While we will be happy to set up a meeting and/or provide you with more detailed information in the coming weeks about the proposed store and our plans, we wanted to share this good news and provide a brief overview of our intentions as soon as possible. Our commitment to Brooklyn and our desire to invest in the greater Gowanus community are stronger than ever, and as we hope you will see, our new development plan is extremely responsive to the surrounding neighborhood and its residents….
…Our property, which was formerly home to a number of auto repair shops, warehouses and other industrial uses, has now been fully cleaned and remediated under the strict guidelines of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s brownfield program and is ready to return to a positive, productive, job-creating and community service use.
Our planned new store will be approx. 52,000 square feet, which is about 25% smaller than the store we had previously proposed for this site. We believe this site plan – which continues to feature a 40 foot public esplanade for our neighbors to enjoy – will simply work better within the parameters of the property.
We have reduced the number of parking spaces on-site from 430 to 248, which eliminates our previous need for a separate parking structure and allows all of the parking to be at-grade in a surface parking lot. The store will feature parking for both energy efficient vehicles as well as specially designated recharging stations for electric powered vehicles. The lot will also include bike parking in front of the store and along the promenade. Whole Foods Market will also offer delivery for area residents.
With parking now no longer needed on the store roof either, we have been presented with the opportunity to include one of the most exciting and innovative features ever included in a Whole Foods Market: A 20,000 square foot greenhouse located on the roof of the store that will grow fresh, organic produce right on-site!
Rather than construct the store below-grade as previously proposed, we now plan to build it above-grade, which will require a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals due to the physical hardships associated with site development (there is a high water table and, as you know, environmental cleanup requirements on the property). These factors have a large impact on the development costs that will be encountered on this site.
As always planned, the two-story, 19th century brick building situated at the property’s corner at Third Avenue and Third Street – which is not owned by Whole Foods Market – will remain in place. The Whole Foods Market will “jog” around the existing building at that corner and Whole Foods has committed to investing in improvements to the building that will include a new roof and exterior repairs.
Finally, you should know that our commitment to local hiring, community investment and the creation of high-quality Whole Foods Market jobs (with excellent benefits) remains unchanged. This new store will create approx. 350 new jobs – fully 70% of which are expected to be full-time positions – and we look forward to working with you and other local stakeholders to ensure that the surrounding community has full access to these new opportunities.
As we hope you can see, we are extremely excited about the opportunity to finally provide Brooklyn residents with convenient access to their own Whole Foods Market. We believe we have developed a plan that is responsive to the surrounding community and look forward to sharing additional details with you in the coming weeks. Thank you and I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Set Backs at Whole Foods Site [Brownstoner]
Signs Point to Whole Foods Brownfield Cleanup Starting [Brownstoner]
Nothing Doing at Whole Foods Site [Brownstoner]
Photo by Nathan Kensinger