Today’s news:

‘Whole’ lotta indecision! Clean-up done, but Whole Foods isn’t sure about Gowanus site

The Brooklyn Paper

To build or not to build?

Whole Foods has finished a pricey clean-up of a contaminated site along the Gowanus Canal, but the grocery chain still won’t commit to building its first location in Brooklyn there.

The popular store’s indecision has left many in the neighborhoods surrounding the Third Street and Third Avenue site anxiously awaiting an announcement — but Whole Foods still isn’t committed to building, even after having decontaminated the property.

“Whole Foods is now reviewing the possibilities for a future location at this site,” said a Whole Foods spokesman, Michael Sinatra. “While there is no timetable set, discussions are active and we remain hopeful to bring a store to this community in the near future.”

Two weeks ago, contractors working for Whole Foods finished excavating toxic soil and removing three underground oil tanks. The area was then capped with two feet of clean soil.

Initially, the state Department of Environmental Conservation had expected the clean-up to be done in conjunction with the construction of a grocery store, but Whole Foods backed out of the store even as it made good on the remediation.

Still, the contractor in charge of the clean-up, John Bogdanski, said that there were tax incentives for Whole Foods to build on the property.

“The [clean-up] tax credits pay over the course of 10 years,” Bogdanski told Community Board 6 when the clean-up began. “If the site is sold, those tax credits move with the land [to the new owner].”

The clean-up was carried out as part of a state program that encourages developers to voluntarily decontaminate toxic sites by doling out tax incentives.

This entire process began in 2005 when Whole Foods announced plans to build on the site, which suffered the toxic consequences of a lumberyard, an auto repair shop, and an oil company dating back to the late 1800s.

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Sid from Boerum Hill says:
Although I am not surprised, I think WF is foolish. This site is between some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in NY. Both the Costco in Sunset Park and Trader Joe's in Brooklyn Heights are among the highest grossing stores in those chains. They charge reasonable amounts for their food. WF is generally unreasonable catering to the "in" crowd that is around that area in droves(in Park slope). It would do in my opinion very well...without me ever setting foot in it.
July 20, 2010, 8:16 am
Jeff says:
While I admit the following is completely unscientific and possibly patently wrong, my instant gut reaction is that buying food from a site that needed such extensive decontamination just doesn't feel like a good idea...
July 20, 2010, 8:31 am
David from park slope says:
I agree with both comments - I think that despite the claims of clean up - the reality is the site is still contaminated below the new topsoil and despite the fact that it probably poses NO hazzard to food or people - I can already imagine the lawsuits - 1st from the employees and then from the patrons that all their non-specific symptoms are from contamination.

BUT absent that risk, WF would be very dumb not to build here. It will instantly be one of the highest grossing WF in the country. It is essentially Ground Zero for their upper-middle class demographic between Cobble Hill and Park Slope and with the highway and 4th Ave right there it will pull in people from all over Brooklyn.

So WF if you can get 100% liability coverage I say, start building.
July 20, 2010, 3:09 pm
David from Park Slope says:
I don't understand how food that is brought into a store like WF could possibly be contaminated by pollutants that lie underneath 2 foot of soil, a concrete foundation, and the rest. Even if you were to eat off the floor - how is it possible the food will be contaminated? Even if you take into account possible out-gassing from the immediate area - hey we live in NYC, not pristine virgin land.
July 20, 2010, 4:57 pm
sonny from cg says:
I wouldn't buy contaminated crap at those high prices. I ain't wealthy -- but I ain't no animal eether
July 22, 2010, 2:53 pm
Larry from Brooklyn says:
Whole Foods would be very "dumb" to plant their Brooklyn store here in the swamp lands "between some of the wealthies" communities of Brooklyn. There are good reasons why this area has never before been used for food distribution sites like grocery markets.

Lets hope that they are giving full consideration to the climate change conditions---more flooding-- that this site is poised to experience. Even if the toxins left behind in the soil on the site don't pose a problem, the sewage dumped from these wealthy communities, within yards of the site need to be considered, especially under flood conditions.
July 23, 2010, 4:48 pm
Wayne from boerum Hill says:
It Just seems so disloyal to me that so many of our neighbors just get so excited about having a Whole Food in the community and not consider the impact it would have on some of the lovely businesses that are barely surviving in this economy. On Atlantic avenue, Trader Joe's moved in and a wonderful health food store went out of business- Govinda. These stores just see profits, your neighborhood stores know you , they talk to your children, etc.
Aug. 29, 2010, 1:23 pm
KANNA from Mill Basin says:
I am sick of these great stores-Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway all catering to one side of Brooklyn-the newbies who don't give a hoot about the rest of Brooklyn. There is more to our borough than North-West Brooklyn-sick of the crap!!
Sept. 6, 2010, 4:20 pm

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