A Different Vision for the Gowanus Whole Foods Site


With a decision looming from the Board of Standards and Appeals’ on the variance Whole Foods Market applied for to build a store larger than zoning allows at 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue, neighborhood think tank the Gowanus Institute released an “alternative development plan” for the site. The blog Gowanus Your Face Off dissected the plan, which calls for building a couple large new buildings that would offer “vocational training, business incubation and support services for entrepreneurs in the culinary and creative industries.” As the blog notes, the space “would be like a Foodie version of the Old Can Factory combined with the Brooklyn Creative league and the 3rd Ward.” Meanwhile, Whole Foods would get 75,000 square feet of space to have a food production space and a storefront, and the little brick landmark on 3rd Avenue would be turned into a “‘Museum of Industry’ to highlight industrial innovation.” Of course, Whole Foods Market owns the site and might not be all that keen on adopting these plans.
The Whole Foods War: Alternative Building Proposal [Gowanus Your Face Off]

25 Comment

  • Nice idea, but without enough parking it will be a non starter for WF.

  • looks good to me, but then anything is better than the nothing that is there now.

  • Great idea, you know another viable idea also might be to build a spaceport if Newt Gingrich’s Moon colony gets funding.

  • How do you say “This ship has sailed” in “NIMBY”?

    Earth to the “Gowanus Institute for Utopian Bliss” … time to move on to the “free ponies for all” convention.

  • Looks like a great idea. Not at all impractical as some commenters would suggest. It pleases me to see a local group in favor of intense industrial development which would be suitable for the site.

  • Yeah not at all impractical to get some RE Firm to pony up probably close to 100 Million dollars for the land and the construction to build on spec,a business incubator that presumably wont be able to afford much rent, and a brand new unfunded museum plus get Whole Foods to agree to a complete change in their business model…yeah should be simple.

  • fsrq, sometimes you have to take a long view of these things.

  • fsrq, sometimes you have to take a long view of these things.

  • Please describe how that view works in this case?

  • wait? let me get this right. gowanus institute thinks whole foods will pay for all this?! bahaha

  • fsrq I don’t have much time to engage today, but you could take a look at this white paper from Pratt. http://prattcenter.net/green-job-creation-potential-nycs-manufacturing-sector Sorry to refer you to an academic report. I can hear your derision already. Suffice it to say that I am strongly opposed to anything that would transform industrial property within city limits into residential use. I also find it curious to see you and others on the site coming out against a larger, denser development. It makes me wonder whether you all are really pro-development, or just pro-development by a certain class of people.

  • fsrq I don’t have much time to engage today, but you could take a look at this white paper from Pratt. http://prattcenter.net/green-job-creation-potential-nycs-manufacturing-sector Sorry to refer you to an academic report. I can hear your derision already. Suffice it to say that I am strongly opposed to anything that would transform industrial property within city limits into residential use. I also find it curious to see you and others on the site coming out against a larger, denser development. It makes me wonder whether you all are really pro-development, or just pro-development by a certain class of people.

    • What century are you living in? Manufacturing has left, left, left this city. (I used left a lot since I assumed left is a word you identify with). There is no manufacturing in NYC that would have taken on this site, And this is commercial use, not residential. But what the heck, lets put condos on top. I’d vote for that variance.

  • No I am not “against” this – it just has ZERO chance of ever happening. You can look short term, or long term or medium term but there is no viable economical model for this (or financing). Its one thing to repurpose a underutilized building (like AM Can) and come up with some creative solution to fully utilize it (and hopefully make some $), its another thing to expect people to put up $100M or so on a nice idea with virtually no chance of a return.

  • Manufacturing in this part of Brooklyn is long dead. If small manufacturers thought that this would be a good place, they would have set up shop instead of having left years ago. Whole foods will employ hundreds of people, many of those jobs being good paying skilled work. These people should stop these delaying tactics and get out of the way of this great development. I live in Red Hood, and Fairway has been a boon for the community in every way.

    • i agree with you on that.

      if you go down third street towards smith anyone can see how dead manufacturing and industrial space is. instead of these “think tank” people messing with a vacant site, that would actually be good for everyone, they should focus their energy on some of the empty industrial buildings in the area.

    • i agree with you on that.

      if you go down third street towards smith anyone can see how dead manufacturing and industrial space is. instead of these “think tank” people messing with a vacant site, that would actually be good for everyone, they should focus their energy on some of the empty industrial buildings in the area.

  • designbiker, you and I disagree about the future. Manufacturing not dead, just on vacation. Part of the reason manufacturing left is because people had some fantasy that Gowanus would become a residential area. fsrq, you and I disagree about feasibility and a developer’s ROI. There are many factors in favor of such a development, and I think we’ll see someone take advantage someday soon.

    • A vacation? A vacation? Yes, Nike, Apple and other companies that moved production abroad are packing their flip flops right now, eager to clean up crap sites in Brooklyn and other areas in order to usher in a new era of union-based manufacturing-based prosperity for unskilled labor……ha….ha….ha…

  • Foregone conclusion that the BSA would vote up on a use variance for a toxic site that the company cleaned up on their nickel, not yours. Nothing would have happened on that site for manufacturing ever given how toxic it was. Grow up you idealists… and enjoy some over-priced organic produce.

    • whose nickel? the taxpayers pitch in a quarter for every dollar spent and will continue to do so for the cost of the construction. Yes the people are paying for a Whole Foods where that money should be spent on a park.

  • Foregone conclusion that the BSA would vote up on a use variance for a toxic site that the company cleaned up on their nickel, not yours. Nothing would have happened on that site for manufacturing ever given how toxic it was. Grow up you idealists… and enjoy some over-priced organic produce.

  • this proposal is too big for the site, the density would also require a variance. the use sounds more like a learning or training facility, not quite manufacturing like the nuts and bolts manufacturers of the area. it dwarfs the building on the corner. way too big, much bigger than the whole foods proposal. telling people what you think….nice!!!! telling people what to do….less nice!!!!! telling people how to spend their money…..niceless!!!!
    its time to let Gowanus shine, Our manufacturers can handle whole foods, The people of Gowanus can think for ourselves, No one asked an institute to think for us. 80% of the community is for this project. lets move on. protecting the profits of others while pretending to care about our community is transparent and deceptive. these people dont care about manufacturing, they care about themselves. let the community determine its destiny, we can think for ourselves. Gowanus is done being dumped on. Move on

    • Completely agree. Its sad seeing individuals support the Gowanus Institute and its disconnection with reality and clearly biased, baseless “studies” which connote the underlying motivations by its leader and the like. Sometimes one needs to step back and think what is best for the community rather than intentionally thwarting something in order to make them seem noble or full of care. The American Can Factory is not the icon of Industry in Brooklyn and should not be taken seriously even if it sets up some fruitless “think tank” with a pretentious name and have a couple of Pratt professors and students support their propaganda on local blogs. I agree that we should work to keep industry and manufacturing businesses and jobs in Brooklyn and that some people have been led to believe in this cause but I assure you it has been under false pretense set by the owner of the American Can Factory in order to make himself look good, help his rentals and raise prices for his commercial property for when he eventually sells it, NOT for the good of the community.

  • Small-scale manufacturing and industry such as garment and food production is alive and well in Bushwick and LIC. Their biggest threat is losing space to residential at higher rents. There is much talk of bringing some manufacturing back to the US from China, as rising wages and transportation costs erode the savings of offshoring. They’d be likely to choose other areas first such as North Carolina.