UPDATED: Whole Foods is coming!

The Brooklyn Paper

Whole Foods is officially coming to the Gowanus Canal!

After years of false-starts, the high-end grocery chain announced on Monday that it will indeed open on its site at Third Avenue and Third Street — five years after touting its plans to build along the contaminated waterway.

Still, Whole Foods has a lot to show for the years of delay that stemmed from cleaning its toxic plot of land and fielding criticism over its proposed 420-space parking lot.

The site is now clean, and the new proposal is even cleaner: the parking plan was reduced to 248 spaces, and Whole Foods reps revealed that 10 percent of the store’s produce will come from a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse on the roof. How’s that, locavores?

“[The new plan] certainly reflects concerns we heard from the community — they made it clear they weren’t happy with the parking garage, and they wanted a greener roof plan,” said Whole Foods spokesman Michael Sinatra. “We delivered.”

The new building — a one-story, 52,000-square-foot megastore similar in size to the chain’s Upper West Side location — will also be 25-percent smaller than the original proposal, which has calmed some jitters about traffic to and from the site midway between Carroll Gardens and Park Slope.

Both neighborhoods have been anxiously awaiting some sort of announcement from the popular store since its inception 2005. But the grocer’s constant indecision over the contaminated site — including reports that it would sell the property and build elsewhere — stalled the process.

Then the Environmental Protection Agency designated the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site, declaring it a national toxic emergency that would need more cleaning. Initially, the state Department of Environmental Conservation had expected the cleanup to be done in conjunction with the Whole Foods construction, but the company pulled out of its store plans even as it made good on the remediation.

But the confusion about whether Whole Foods would build or not is history — though there’s still no timetable for the project. Still, even former naysayers are happy.

“Certainly, we’ll still see an increase in traffic to the area, but I applaud [Whole Foods] for significantly reducing the parking … and the [greenhouse] rooftop and bike access are great,” said Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors, who criticized the huge parking garage in the original plan. “They’re definitely taking a positive approach at answering community concerns.”

Updated 11:13 pm, November, 30 2010: Now includes more information and context.

Reader Feedback

Hayek from Reality says:
Rooftop greenhouse? really? better using the rooftop for parking and increasing store space so they can provide more space for produce grown in areas where it is more effective to grow it. And how many 'charging stations' are they going to install? wonder what plug design they will use?

Great to see wholefoods committing to the area however playing to the feelgood liberals in the hood with amenities that really are wasteful and a publicitiy stunt is BS
Nov. 29, 2010, 6:44 pm
freddy from slope says:
of course they are playing to some group.

if they remediated and reduced parking.... that is a far sight farther than the atlantic yard folks.

I really cant see complaining that they dont have enough parking when the largest complaint against it thus far was that it had too much parking.

damned if they do...

damned if they dont.
Nov. 29, 2010, 7:33 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
it is a very long time comming...the verdict is out on the rooftop garden, there is alot of pollution in the area..the gowanus is not know for anything good for a humans health, no less eating produce grown in the area. good luck to the first customers who eat from the rooftop garden...I wish them well,hope they have major medical insurance.
Nov. 29, 2010, 9:20 pm
robert from red hook/bath beach says:
with the invasion of yuppies, green people aka tree huggers, artists and all other outsiders from points unknown, who preach not to support the corporate world and do preach to support the local mom and pop stores...HELLO! this is just another BIG FRANCHISE STORE masking itself as a community friendly store runned by a bunch of suits somewhere in corporate America. thier bottom line is profits. i wouldn't be surprised a few of our politicians have an investment with them
Nov. 29, 2010, 10:40 pm
Dave from Park Slope says:
You guys don't understand the meaning of development at all
Nov. 29, 2010, 11:53 pm
Jack Meyhoffer from Flatlands says:
I'd think the original, larger parking area would reduce congestion since cars could park more easily and faster. I ride bicycle, anyway.
Nov. 30, 2010, 12:31 am
Gloria from Sheepshead Bay says:
Ride bicycles in the rain, snow and cold weather with packages? Unbelievable that there are people complaining about cars and parking. Rooftop greenhouse: great idea
Nov. 30, 2010, 2:53 am
JJ from Brooklyn says:
Robert from Red Hook has it exactly right. Same applies to the morons who wait 10 and 15 minutes at Trader Joe's instead of supporting either of two local greengrocers around the corner, or even the local Key Foods.

Whole Foods is nothing but a Texas-based Wal-Mart-like company; Trader Joe's isn't even American. Givemeabreak!

("Development's" a whole 'nother story — and the Third Ave strip needs it. But stop pretending that Whole Foods care about anything other than it's bottom line; it certainly is unlikely to be a good corporate citizen in Brooklyn.)
Nov. 30, 2010, 7:24 am
Al from Park Slope says:
I agree with both Robert and JJ. The fact of the matter is that whereas all of the "local & environmental" chorus of folks are actually the type that jump on bandwagons as opposed to being the trendsetters for that movement. thats why the idea of whole foods and fairway and trader Joes makes them excited. As if others arent "in the hip and cool" because we don't induldge in $2 chuck crappy california wine.

Fact is, they are some of the biggest culprits of submitting to the obviously great marketing strategies of these big corporations that market themselves as being just a big ole' neighborhood general store.
Nov. 30, 2010, 7:39 am
Charles from PS says:
Just a reminder to all ... the small businesses in the neigborhood who have served the community for many years will continue to need our support. Whole foods is a corporate entity in which most of their profits will transfer outside the community. Be careful of the upscaled lifestyle, as it might casue more harm than good. Ask this question before you decide to spend more money for fancy packaging and higher prices. Seventh and Fifth avenue food stores have all that Whole Foods offers, at better prices and a community feel.
Nov. 30, 2010, 10:27 am
Tony from Boerum Hill says:
10% of the produce will come from the roof garden?

How will the "malodorous canal" affect the taste and/or quality of the veggies? At least they aren't planting in the new and improved surrounding ground even closer to the pugnaciously odoriferous canal.

Will this cause an exodus from the Co-op? or will the Co-op, co-opt the idea and get green with a new requirement that members will be required to grow 10% of Co-op veggies in window boxes and stoop gardens?
Dec. 1, 2010, 11:37 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
Whole Paycheck Foods finally comes to Brooklyn. I'll be passing them by on my way to Fairways. At least they are locally owned, and actually have better prices than any other supermarket I've come across in Brooklyn.
Dec. 3, 2010, 2:20 pm
Joe from Gowanus says:
It looks like the EPA Superfund cleanup is helping develop the Gowanus Waterfront into big boxes
thank you EPA!
Dec. 3, 2010, 4:10 pm
Bklynpeg from BkHgts says:
Great comments from the last 6 community members - I don't understand "new residents'" fascination with upscale supermarkets and big boxes--(want to make it look like the place they moved away from?) and new mkts have caused some of the older ones to follow suit in rare products and even-rarer pricing.
Unless you live next door to store, you still have to drive. As for the Gowanus' odor--guess you didn't live here in the 50's--this IS great!- On the other hand, I'd worry more about the surrounding land, and earth that might blow their way if it's not enclosed --study done in early 90's showed increased lead content in soil bordering Gowanus/Prospect expwy area.
Seems to be that news talks everyday about small business, but action seems to be about/for the
large...P.A.
Dec. 5, 2010, 2:38 pm
J Anthony from Park Slope says:
I Cant' believe all the negative energy on these posts... What a bunch of conspiracy theorist curmudgeons you all are... Shame on you.

Whole foods is a WELCOME addition to our neighborhood. I intend to shop there with delight and enjoy the experience while doing so. They offer a great shopping experience... something you NEVER get at the co-op. Both have their merits and there is PLENTY of room for both.

If there were a "locally owned" sex shop or another tire repair shop there, would you people be happy?

No of course not... you people are NEVER happy unless you're complaining.
Dec. 8, 2010, 11:37 pm
Tom from Flatbush says:
I LOVE Whole Foods. I wish they would open stores in every neighborhood in Brooklyn and make them as large as they want to with as much parking as they want. Same goes with Trader Joes.
April 11, 2011, 1:28 am

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