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

‘Whole’ lotta indecision! Clean-up done, but Whole Foods isn’t sure about Gowanus site
Community Newspaper Group / Bess Adler

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.