The Landmarks Preservation Commission is fining Whole Foods a second time for failing to maintain the Coignet building at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street, Brooklyn Paper reported. The $3,000 fine issued in December was dismissed because the city forgot to bring a piece of paper to court. Grocery store spokesman Michael Sinatra told the paper that restoration began Monday, as we noted. The project is supposed to wrap late this year.

City to Cite Whole Foods Second Time for “Neglecting” Old Building [Brooklyn Paper]
Coignet Building Coverage [Brownstoner]


Scaffolding has gone up on the side of the Coignet Building next to Whole Foods, above, where it appears the grocer is finally making good on its obligation to repair the landmark, Gowanus Your Face Off reported.

As we noted previously, in December a renovation permit was approved and Whole Foods was fined $3,000 by the city for failing to maintain the structure (after complaints to the DOB that construction on its new building had caused structural cracks in the facade).

The scaffolding is in the tiny alleyway between the two buildings. A construction sign at the site says the restoration will finish in “late 2014,” said GYFO.

Coignet Building Restoration Has Begun, Anticipated Completion in 2014 [GYFO]
Look Inside the Crumbling Coignet Building [Brownstoner]
City Approves Permits for Whole Foods to Restore Coignet Building [Brownstoner]
Coignet Building in Bad Shape [Brownstoner]
Photo by GYFO


An anonymous urban explorer sent us these photos of his trip inside the landmarked but dilapidated Coignet building at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street, which Whole Foods is supposed to begin restoring soon. The organic food giant had promised to finish restoring the building before it opened its doors in Gowanus, but construction may have further damaged it. The Landmarks Preservation Commission fined Whole Foods $3,000 in December for failing to maintain the property.

When we stopped by last month, the building was open to the elements, with broken windows accessible on the ground floor and what looked like new structural cracks at the base of the building.

Here’s the explorer’s description of the interior:

“For the most part the interior is characterless in terms of details and finishes, but it’s really neglected, which isn’t justified for it being such a badass New York City landmark. There’s a pretty cool spiral staircase that goes from the basement to the second floor and in the basement there’s a walk-in vault. For some reason I spent most of my time down there — a combination of incredible low light and the feeling like it was the only part that didn’t have a cheap 1950’s renovation. Didn’t Whole Foods make a deal whereby they can straddle the shit out of the Coignet Building as long as they help to restore it? Some of the floors and parts of the staircase are collapsing from water damage so clearly something needs to be done. I would hate to see this follow in the footsteps of Admiral’s Row.”

Click through the jump for the rest of the photos!

City Approves Permits for Whole Foods to Restore Coignet Building [Brownstoner]
Coignet Building in Bad Shape [Brownstoner]
Photos by Gothamr


Well, we really thought we’d settled the drawn-out business of Whole Foods getting approval to build a store at 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue inn Gowanus after the Board of Standards and Appeals approved a variance request last month, but, according to a story in the Journal, the City Council still needs to vote to approve the reduction of the lot size of the landmark building sitting on the grocer’s site. The LPC already approved the lot reduction of the Coignet Stone Company Building in January, so the Council vote is probably 100% pro forma, but the article gives a nice primer on the history of the landmark as well as why some preservationists aren’t pleased about the Whole Foods store wrapping around the building very tightly. The article talks about how the building was constructed in 1872, landmarked in 2006, and how the “elegant Italianite mansion provided office space for Coignet and subsequent companies, including its longest-running tenant, the Brooklyn Improvement Co., from which Coignet leased the land for its stone works.” We’re going to block quote more about the building’s history, since it’s so interesting:

Designed by William Field & Son, the curious building was a showcase for Beton Coignet, a new concrete developed in France by François Coignet in the 1850s. The Brooklyn mansion was built of the very material it championed and displayed various architectural features and ornament cast from molds, showing that concrete could replicate the stone-and-chisel method of old. ‘It was definitely an advertisement [for the company]. They put it on the most visible position on the lot,’ said Matthew Postal, a landmarks commission researcher who studied the Coignet building, ‘This is a building that was testing a new technology; it would be an engineering landmark.’ Noteworthy commissions using the new building material included portions of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cleft Ridge Span in Prospect Park, the oldest such arch in the country. Coignet also supplied concrete for new residential developments, simultaneously rising to prominence with the Brooklyn Improvement Co., founded by Edwin Clark Litchfield.

While Whole Foods has pledged to give the building a facelift, some preservationists fear that by reducing the lot size, the building’s distinctiveness will get lost in the sauce compared to the big store next to it.
Market Nears A Landmark [WSJ]
After 8 Years, Brooklyn’s First Whole Foods is Finally a Go! [Brownstoner]
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