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CB6 sees ‘Whole’ lot of positives in store

The Brooklyn Paper
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Whole Foods cleared the first hurdle in its effort to build a White House-sized megastore on the Gowanus Canal last week, winning the support of a community board panel, even as many locals demanded that the green grocer downsize its plan.

The company — famous for its do-gooding and environmental ethos — needs a zoning variance to build a 56,000-square-foot grocery store at Third Avenue and Third Street, a plan that would bring more than 5,880 cars to the neighborhood each Saturday, according to the company’s own traffic study.

Many opponents of the proposal hooked their opposition to that statistic at last Thursday’s Community Board 6 hearing.

“Unwanted traffic is neither ‘green’ nor desirable,” said Rita Miller, who lives on Second Place.

The new shop — and its 250-space parking lot and 20,000-square-foot greenhouse — is expected sprout in 2012 and would open within months of the Barclays Center arena, which promises to draw thousands of drivers to the area.

The 56,000 square-foot store is down from an original 68,000-square-foot proposal with a 420-car lot. That proposal was delayed because the company first needed to clean its Gowanus-side lot of toxins.

Now the immediate delay is the variance to allow a building greater than 10,000 square feet. Unlike zoning changes, the permit to build larger than the current law allows does not require the support of the community board, the borough president and the City Council. It will only need the rubber stamp of the Board of Standards and Appeals.

At the Community Board 6 committee hearing, at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea on First Street in Carroll Gardens, Whole Foods spokesman Michael Sinatra did not address requests to decrease the shop size or offer shuttle services to ease traffic congestion. (He also did not return several calls by press time.)

Instead, he spoke about the company’s reputation for donating to neighborhood charities and creating jobs. He also said that Whole Foods has a “commitment to sell 10 percent local products,” though one audience member chortled, “That’s it!?”

But there was plenty of support for the project, too.

“Ultimately, this is a positive asset,” said David Krieger of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation. “We should work to find a strong partnership.”

Mark Shames of Community Board 6 added there are plenty of worse companies that could occupy the space.

“Every large project has its pluses and minuses,” he said. “You have to consider what happens if it isn’t built.”

Updated 2:23 pm, June 7, 2011: Updated to make a minor change about zoning.
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Reader Feedback

Green Earth / Green City from Earth says:
The Charitable Donation that Whole Foods should be making is this Gowanus site for the purpose of wetlands restoration, green storm water filtration, flood plane management, and open space recreations.

Our most dense coastal cities have taken out some of the most valuable wetlands areas which once supported our biosphere. Whole foods can only be sustained by a Whole Earth. It is time to give back to the earth, not take more.
June 5, 2011, 5:06 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
why should the community give a good idea and much need store that will greatly benefit the area a hard time?..are these folks who are objecting long time neighborhood residents or new residents to the area.?
how about the concrete silos, they are a real eyesore.
this was an industrial area, never meant for humans to be living on or near the canal.
if these new residents want to improve the dumppy area they should encourage development. no one wanted to live there, it was a dump.
June 5, 2011, 10:42 pm
Resident from PPW says:
If Whole Foods doesn't move in there, it would be a perfect place for a Walmart!
June 6, 2011, 5:36 am
Charles from Midwood says:
Seriously, a food store built next door to one of the EPA's Super Sites?

Why not choose an environmentally clean site. Come to Flatbush Avenue which is both historic to Brooklyn and easily accessible for all.

I do appreciate the irony of Whole Foods selecting the most polluted/contaminated site in Brooklyn!
June 6, 2011, 11:15 am
judahspechal from bed-stuy says:
With the population of Brooklyn I don't understand why a smaller store would be better. I am far from a pro Big Corporate guy, but come on. Brooklyn needs jobs. Bigger means more jobs. And a least Whole Foods is showing a desire to be a good Community Partner. Unlike Walmart, who funds studies to
June 6, 2011, 11:39 am
judahspechal from bed-stuy says:
influence the will of the people
June 6, 2011, 11:40 am
Dave from Bensonhurst says:
—— those Tea Party ——s
June 6, 2011, 2:56 pm
hole foods from carroll gardens says:
Positive economic impact for brooklyn, is:

> build an as-of-right industrial/commercial building on the site (FAR 2.0) for small/mid-size 'green' manufacturing businesses, for;

> at least 200 local companies instead of one public company based elsewhere, that;

> would provide at least 1,200 jobs paying
considerably higher wages than whole foods does, and;

> avoid the 64,000 car trips each way per week (by WF's own rediculousy understudied traffic study) through the streets of the brooklyn.
June 11, 2011, 10:50 am

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