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Whole Foods is coming to Williamsburg - Brooklyn Paper

Whole Foods is coming to Williamsburg

Whole Foods plans to open a store in Williamsburg at the corner of Bedford Avenue and N. Fourth Street.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Whole Foods is coming to Williamsburg.

The organic supermarket mega-chain confirmed to this newspaper on Wednesday that it will open a store on Bedford Avenue by mid-2014, bringing its fair-trade produce — topped with housing — to a vacant, block-long lot on N. Fourth Street between Bedford Avenue and Berry Street

The Texas-based grocery chain has been eyeing the site for several months.

On Monday, three Manhattan developers paid $23 million for the fenced-in property that has been vacant for nearly a decade — paving the way for Whole Foods to plant its presumably organic canvas flag at the location, according to a column in our sister publication the New York Post.

Real estate brokers say the opening of a Whole Foods on the block — which already boasts a Duane Reade and an HSBC branch, and is within walking distance from the rapidly developing waterfront — is a natural fit.

“There are going to be a lot of people moving into that area, given all that is planned, under construction, and has been built,” said Massey Knakal chairman Bob Knakal. “I think the main drivers would be there to support a facility like that.”

Whole Foods reportedly plans to build a large entrance on the first floor and plant the bulk of the store — some 30,000 square feet — underground. The gym New York Sports Club might open on a part of the ground floor and second floor of the site, while rental units would rise above the development.

North Brooklynites largely welcomed the grocery chain to Bedford Avenue, saying the neighborhood would embrace Whole Foods despite its not-so-indie cred.

“You’ve got people walking up and down here so they can spend $200 on a pair of jeans, so Whole Foods will fit right in,” said Williamsburg resident Justin Fairweather, who shops at farmers markets and uses the delivery service Fresh Direct. “Whole Foods is pricey, but they have a good product.”

Whole Foods isn’t the only grocery store in the Northside — the planned supermarket would join Khim’s Millenium Market, Sunac Natural Foods, Williamsburg Food Market, Tops, and a planned food-seller at the foot of the condo complex The Edge.

Nor will it be the only Whole Foods about to sprout in a quick-changing Brooklyn neighborhood.

The food company plans to start building a much larger, White House-sized megastore on Third Avenue and Third Street Gowanus this spring, complete with a rooftop greenhouse and a 250-space parking lot, after seven years of delays and complaints from neighbors about the shop’s scale and impact on traffic.

The Williamsburg Whole Foods would even be smaller than the grocer’s location in Manhattan’s Union Square and it would face similar parking challenges.

For now, North Brooklyn’s Whole Food fans have to trek on the crowded L train to Manhattan to get their craft chocolate bars, frozen vegan dinners, and macrobiotic Greek yogurt.

But in two years, that could change.

“I love Whole Foods and would love to have one by my house,” said Williamsburg resident Maria Pachenko.

“It would definitely change the vibe of the neighborhood,” she said.

— with Natalie O’Neill and Will Bredderman

Reach reporter Aaron Short at ashort@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2547.

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