The ongoing fight to keep a Whole Foods out of Gowanus, Brooklyn came to an end last night when a city panel approved construction for a facility five times larger than zoning rules allow. While this technically isn’t north Brooklyn news, the issues at hand are certainly relevant. Many local residents and businesses opposed the plan, fearing that it would change the character of the neighborhood and hurt local establishments. This will be the first Whole Foods location in Brooklyn.
According to NY Daily News, construction will begin in the spring and the store will open in the middle of next year. Since purchasing the site at 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street in 2004, Whole Foods has had to clean it up (inspectors found the soil to be contaminated) and cut the proposed size of the facility by 25%.
While some local residents support the decision – one tweeted, “awesome, Whole Foods Brooklyn approved… I love this ‘hood, and now I may never move” – the opposition has been vocal. The Gowanus Institute, located in the Old American Can Factory across the street from the Whole Foods site, has voiced concerns about the supermarket taking away potential manufacturing spaces and jobs and in the area. “Gowanus Institute is disappointed by NYC Board of Standards and Appeals’ decision to grant Whole Foods Market the variance to build a large, suburban-style retail food market in an area that has been a haven for well-paying manufacturing jobs protected by New York City’s zoning law and economic policies,” the Institute wrote in a statement about the decision. “The retail development will indeed forever alter the essential manufacturing character of the Gowanus neighborhood.”
Gowanus, located between Park Slope and Carroll Gardens, is known for its industrial past. In 2009, the city declared the Gowanus Canal, which runs up against the Whole Foods plot, an environmental Superfund site.