No Resolution in First Hearing Over Gowanus Whole Foods


Yesterday was the first Board of Standards and Appeals hearing over Whole Foods’ variance request to build a bigger store than zoning allows at 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue, and the board ultimately decided to continue the hearing next month. According to BSA staffers, there was significant turnout from community members opposed to Whole Foods, particularly tenants of the Can Factory across the street, many of whom spoke out against the market because they said it could drive small business out of the area. More than 20 people testified, and most of them were against the retailer building on the site. The board asked the Whole Foods reps to provide them with additional details about several aspects of the project for the next hearing: clarification on how much piles would cost; a more fine-tuned analysis of how their site is unique from others on the Gowanus Canal; an analysis of whether manufacturing uses could theoretically work at the site, rather than just the warehouse and retail uses that Whole Foods analyzed; and further information about how the supermarket is expected to affect traffic and parking in the area. The next hearing will be on January 24th.
Whole Foods Saga Drags on as BSA Blessing is Sought [Brownstoner]

19 Comment

  • Don’t we think that “Whole Foods” would be better than having the land lay vacant with nothing on it. or at least if the community doesn’t want anything there, they could just let “Mother Nature” take over and let it become a nice natural green space.

    I like the idea of natural land.

  • Don’t we think that “Whole Foods” would be better than having the land lay vacant with nothing on it. or at least if the community doesn’t want anything there, they could just let “Mother Nature” take over and let it become a nice natural green space.

    I like the idea of natural land.

  • why not both? make them set aside land for a park along the canal (for when the clean it up. ok, no laughing), and maybe a small parking deck so there can be more green space.

  • why not both? make them set aside land for a park along the canal (for when the clean it up. ok, no laughing), and maybe a small parking deck so there can be more green space.

  • sheesh! sometimes I wonder how ANYTHING ever gets built in NYC

  • Community Board 6′s landmarks/land use committee voted in favor of supporting the store’s plans in June 2011.

    Now the same NIMBY’s are out to vent their misplaced frustration at the BSA hearing.

    56,000 s/f is not big for that site … see the rendering.

    I doubt WF will build a 10,000 s/f store here (current zoning), so if the BSA votes against, we get a Brownfield until the Superfund clean-up is done in a decade … sweet.

    Nobody likes traffic outside their house but that’s what happens when a former wasteland (Gowanus) develops into a hot neighborhood.

  • Community Board 6′s landmarks/land use committee voted in favor of supporting the store’s plans in June 2011.

    Now the same NIMBY’s are out to vent their misplaced frustration at the BSA hearing.

    56,000 s/f is not big for that site … see the rendering.

    I doubt WF will build a 10,000 s/f store here (current zoning), so if the BSA votes against, we get a Brownfield until the Superfund clean-up is done in a decade … sweet.

    Nobody likes traffic outside their house but that’s what happens when a former wasteland (Gowanus) develops into a hot neighborhood.

  • I don’t think any BSA application I have been involved with was decided with one hearing. I would not read too much into “More than 20 people testified, and most of them were against the retailer” and “the board ultimately decided to continue the hearing next month.”

  • what is wrong with those people? I’m sorry they are idiots.

  • manufacturing? what the f are they talking about? what city do they live in, the upper east side? large scale manufacturing is dead, small scale and high tech no …… they’ll get it done but jeez

  • manufacturing? what the f are they talking about? what city do they live in, the upper east side? large scale manufacturing is dead, small scale and high tech no …… they’ll get it done but jeez

  • The stupidity of people is amazing sometimes. Don’t they realize that this Whole Foods is going to increase property values in the area by 15% the day it opens? Anyone know if the Can Factory is a rental or a condo? If it’s a condo someone should hit them on the head with a god damn can. It’s called progress morons!

    • Wow! First off, you can not change the rules (zoning) so that your property values can increase. Second, the can factory is home to many small businesses. It is not residential. Whether or not whole foods will increase property values is not the question. The question is whether bringing in a whole foods will negatively impact the many businesses who call Gowanus home- and have created revenue and jobs for the local community. I don’t make the rules but it bothers me when people try to get around them, especially without an accurate traffic study (study they did do did not account for Atlantic Yards). Whole Foods should be on 4th Avenue. Where there is public transportation.

  • NYS Report on Sea-Level Rise clearly states that larger developments should not be permitted in risky coastal areas because of high cost to taxpayers. Yet Whole Foods is claiming hard ship before the BSA because they are building in a risky flood-prone coastal area.

    OXYMORON?

    BSA needs to read the State report and head the recommendations. As the report concludes, larger facilities in coastal flood prone areas will prove to be a significant hardship on the taxpayers.

    And since nature will be claiming the site over the coming decades, why doesn’t the city plan accordingly.

  • boobyj- it is crazy to me that property values are the only thing you are thinking of!! The can factory houses over 200 small businesses and artist space. With increased property values many businesses would be displaced through out the area.

    mr joist- if whole food moves in that means then other big box stores will follow! walmart, costco, maybe we will even be lucky enough to get an outlet mall!!!- this rezoning will set a precedent for other property owners to get the same variance.

    the area is zoned for manufacturing, manufacturing is a leading and thriving business in nyc and these are valuable, high paying jobs.
    What does the city need?, jobs!!! not another food store.

    stargazer- The land was not vacant – whole foods tore down the buildings on the site.

    why would we want a building built in a flood zone that will ultimately cost the take payers money??!!!

    they are the minimum amount of public space and water access that is required.

    i love whole foods!! but it should not be built in this location.

  • I’m under the impression that Can Factory tenants are mostly in the arts/design/publishing field. Correct? Aren’t these the core demographic of Whole Foods shoppers?
    If the argument is more about anti-big box retailers, well, I share some of those sentiments. But I think the fear is overblown because there’s already a good amount of big box retailing within 5-10 miles of Gowanus. Require Whole Foods to cut down on the parking lot size and offer more bicycle spots.
    I am curious how Whole Foods and their engineering firm plan to address the flood zone issue.

  • The argument that this will push out small business is absolutely absurd. Did Fairway Market in Red Hook do this? The Can Factory is zoned for manufacturing and last time I checked, landlords of industrial property are not on top of such a hot commodity where they can afford to raise rental prices past a certain amount. Commercial real estate is different from residential real estate. Rise in property value does not equal displacement of small businesses in INDUSTRIALLY zoned buildings where you basically have a cap on rent. Flawed argument on many levels. What about the jobs that Whole Foods will create? I doubt whole foods is trying to increase their own property value- they just want to open up. Believe me they do not want to pay more taxes. Traffic is the issue. Having http://www.almadinah-school.com/ across the street from a Loading Zone is an issue. There is no evidence that this will push out small businesses but a socioeconomic study would be nice so that these flawed arguments are discredited. Cultivating small business should be the priority of industrial/manufacturing landlords and it is they that are at fault if THEY decide to sell their building, up their rents etc. Upping their rents will never work because they will not be able to replace tenants for proper use. Whole Foods will be a nice addition to the area but the traffic situation needs to be re-evaluated and plans need to be adjusted. 200 small businesses? Really? How many jobs do these ‘businesses’ provide? How many jobs will Whole Foods provide? Both will succeed next to one another. Hey Blofeld – stop being so pessimistic and get off your office space high horse!

  • There is no evidence that adding a large and thriving business to a blighted area will make it worse. Naysayers are so scared of change that they will let this opportunity slip by, and then we will all be sorry. They are all morons, and should be putting their energies toward supporting this project and getting approved and built faster!

    This is the kind of thing that makes me want to become a Republican, and that is a sorry state of affairs!

  • On the Can Factory’s Website I counted 80 businesses, many of which are comprised of one person. It seems odd that each individual person is on the list of tenants despite being attached to one particular business. I can’t figure out why they are so opposed to this but judging by their website, it looks like their economic impact is overblown and people should realize that it is currently not the industrial hub that its made out to be.