HDC Pushes Against Coignet Stone Lot Reduction


The Landmarks Preservation Commission may have voted to approve a request to reduce the lot around the Coignet Stone building on the Whole Foods site in Gowanus, but a prominent preservation organization is protesting the decision. The Historic Districts Council had the following to say about the matter in an email blast that went out yesterday: “This proposal is an effort [for Whole Foods] to avoid the normal Landmarks Preservation Commission review process. The owners of the Coignet Building should be required to present plans at a public hearing to show how their proposal relates to the designated property. Otherwise, this will point the way for all who want to build upon a landmarked site and avoid LPC oversight.” The proposal still has to be approved by the City Planning Commission and then the City Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, which should happen within the next couple months. Meanwhile, HDC started a petition asking for “proper protection” for the Coignet Stone building and a public hearing about the request to reduce the lot size.
LPC Approves Reduction of Coignet Stone Lot [Brownstoner]
Preservationists: Don’t Shrink Gowanus Landmark’s Lot [Brownstoner]
LPC Hearing on Reduction of Gowanus Building’s Lot [Brownstoner] GMAP

17 Comment

  • I don’t understand the concern frankly. The little building is fully protected. What purpose would it serve to have the LPC become involved in the design review of a new supermarket next door?
    In order to function effectively, the Landmarks Commission must be able to act on the merits of an unusual project like this. Concern that this somehow sets a precedent for all landmarks is a little far-fetched.

  • The building is protected. This is an attempt to derail whole goods with groundless arguments using legitimate organizations backed by people with economic interest in stopping the whole foods project. This property will be reborn thanks to whole foods.

  • This is ridiculous. Now vacant lots are historic, and lot boundaries?

  • What a bunch of freaking idiots the HDC people are, they are having a petition for proper protection for this run down crappy old rotted building that hasn’t been taken care of in decades, it just amazes me of the logic in this….

    They are making a big stink over this, then why cant, doesn’t someone renovate this crappy little structure or bull doze it..

    I hate this stupid building, I wish it would burn down to the ground, which actually I am surprised after all these years hasn’t happened.

  • stargazer, it is an all-concrete building. It can’t burn down.
    One of the reasons it was designated a landmark is because it is the earliest known all-concrete building in New York CIty. It was built in 1872 and was part of a 5-acre factory that produced something called Coignet stone. Invented in France by someone named Francois Coignet, the product was an early type of cast concrete. The little building was meant to showcase the company’s product.
    It is all concrete…..like your head.

  • Just do it and get things going so Whole Foods can build their store; and incidentally, totally renovate that crappy little building, as they have agreed to do.

    This is preservation run a muck!!

  • i bet if whole foods wasn’t in so deep on this already, they’d say f%$k brooklyn. enough with the red tape – we all want this to be built.

  • Why should Whole Foods be dismissed from following normal LPC review when private home owners inside a historic district are dragged through that process, with Community Board and commissioners obsessing over every detail. Those same Commissioners have an obligation to make sure that development on the landmarked property is not going to diminish the landmark building. This can only happen under the established review process that Whole Foods is asking to be dismissed from. This is not so much to ask of Whole Foods–so they have to make a few more drawings.

    Why should a big corporation not have to comply with the LPC law in the same way private home owners are?

    Is regulation just for the little guy? Or can the little guy ask LPC to cut their backyard out of the Landmarked District so they can avoid the LPC overview?

  • Why should Whole Foods be dismissed from following normal LPC review when private home owners inside a historic district are dragged through that process, with Community Board and commissioners obsessing over every detail. Those same Commissioners have an obligation to make sure that development on the landmarked property is not going to diminish the landmark building. This can only happen under the established review process that Whole Foods is asking to be dismissed from. This is not so much to ask of Whole Foods–so they have to make a few more drawings.

    Why should a big corporation not have to comply with the LPC law in the same way private home owners are?

    Is regulation just for the little guy? Or can the little guy ask LPC to cut their backyard out of the Landmarked District so they can avoid the LPC overview?

  • armstrong you completely and misguidedly do not understand any of the issue. whole foods has committed to this building the respect it deserves. when the radiator shop and mechanic shop was there. those buildings adjioned the Coignet building…there was no surrounding land. look at the picture.. no one is talking about a backyard it is a matter of incorporating in a responsible way what is there. this petition is nothing more than an attempt to strong arm whole foods.

    • If Whole Foods is planning on doing right by this building then why don’t they just show us the drawings that demonstrate that to be true. If their Architect has not done any such studies, then there certainly is no basis to the claim that Whole Foods is doing right by the landmark. Any architect would have to do these basic study drawings, even if they were not building atop a landmarked site.

      Let Whole Foods show us that their intentions are good!

      Their lack of street front images is not reassuring. They won’t even show us what (if any) storefront windows they plan for 3rd Street.

    • If Whole Foods is planning on doing right by this building then why don’t they just show us the drawings that demonstrate that to be true. If their Architect has not done any such studies, then there certainly is no basis to the claim that Whole Foods is doing right by the landmark. Any architect would have to do these basic study drawings, even if they were not building atop a landmarked site.

      Let Whole Foods show us that their intentions are good!

      Their lack of street front images is not reassuring. They won’t even show us what (if any) storefront windows they plan for 3rd Street.

  • they are showing all the plans to all the city agencies, and all the appropriate designated authorities. if you need to see the plans kick in some capital. otherwise believe that the people we elected and appointed to protect city zoning laws and city landmark rules are responsible enough hold whole foods to task. i dont need to see the plans, i would like to hear what amazing uses you might suggest for that space once it is given new life.
    moving forward requires the ability to be flexible. allowing minor lot configuration is not a big deal. they will have some of the most amazing open space for our community. do not be so closed minded…this is not the Eiffel tower or brooklyn bridge. its a historic building that needs help.

    • Plan views can not possibly describe the relationship of the proposed structure and the landmark. Elevation views begin to tell about relations of heights. Does anyone even know how tall the new structure will be in relation to the existing. Don’t think anyone of those landmarks commissioners have the slightest clue because Whole Foods didn’t show them much more than simple plan diagrams.

      • if you do this everyday plans you can see elevations very clearly on plans. heights are very restricted… there has been nothing simple here for whole foods. I think they have more than a clue they handle very distinct, complicated and delicate buildings throughout the city. Give them some credit, they do amazing work around the city…. but this is not a landmark of the type you so feverishly want to protect. Nor does the historical district council need to find cause for alarm. it is a blight to the community as it stands now

  • The issue with the landmarked building is a red herring. Yes it would be nice to preserve the building for its historic value, but there is another significance to the landmarking. You see, Whole Foods thinks that the landmarked building adjacent to its site is a “unique” condition. As a result, they feel that their claim of hardship is bolstered in their effort to get a variance for their site.

    The Whole Foods model is backward looking, and not right for the City and not right for the site for a lot of reasons, but he fact that the suburban megastore and parking lot will sit next to an historic building is not one of them. I, for one, do not support Whole Foods’ effort here, and so I think that the issue of the building’s historic significance is a distraction. I think the first commenter had it right. “The little building is fully protected.”

  • The issue with the landmarked building is a red herring. Yes it would be nice to preserve the building for its historic value, but there is another significance to the landmarking. You see, Whole Foods thinks that the landmarked building adjacent to its site is a “unique” condition. As a result, they feel that their claim of hardship is bolstered in their effort to get a variance for their site.

    The Whole Foods model is backward looking, and not right for the City and not right for the site for a lot of reasons, but he fact that the suburban megastore and parking lot will sit next to an historic building is not one of them. I, for one, do not support Whole Foods’ effort here, and so I think that the issue of the building’s historic significance is a distraction. I think the first commenter had it right. “The little building is fully protected.”