The Brooklyn Whole Foods had to prove to the city it adequately removed the site's toxic soil from the banks of the Superfund-designated Gowanus in order to develop the store, which will include a 20,000 square-foot rooftop greenhouse and a charging station for electric cars. Still, not all are pleased by the prospect of a high-end organic paradise in what has been an area of traditionally low rent. The Gowanus Institute, a think tank devoted to research, planning and development for the area, released a statement expressing its disappointment in NYC Board of Standards and Appeals’ decision.
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.
Gowanus Institute maintains that WFM did not meet the five, legally-required findings for a variance to be granted. It is clear that if built, the retail development will indeed forever alter the essential manufacturing character of the Gowanus neighborhood. Additionally, WFM did not establish that an as-of-right manufacturing alternative could not be built. [gowanusinstitute.org]
Additionally, the Gowanus Institute proposed an alternate plan stressing local food production, suggesting that the site be devoted to a culinary incubator like 3rd Ward's. "I do think it’s a slippery slope," Martin Bisi, who runs a recording studio he started with Brian Eno across the street, told the New York Times. “My issue with this is what happens five years down the road, maybe even a decade. There’s a lot of paranoia of people around here because we’ve seen in other parts of the city the process of what happens.”
Luckily, someone has already provided us with a brief glimpse into a possible Whole Foods future. This Funny or Die video shows what it's like to get real in the Whole Foods parking lot, "you know the deal with those little shopping carts they got."
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