The Whole Foods War: Alternative Building Proposal

Late Friday the Gowanus Institute (GI) sent out a proposal for a structure other than 78000 sq. ft. Whole Foods store at 3rd Ave. and 3rd St. This location is up for debate (vote set for Feb 28th) by the NYC Board of Standards And Appeals over whether or not Whole Foods Markets can use a variance to allow food, which is again area zoning regulation (…aka if Whole Foods can actually sell food). It’s also the same location that the Gowanus Institutes (GI) did an independent study on that showed the Whole Foods proposed store would dramatically increase traffic in the area.

SouthWest View

So, what does the Gowanus Institute want to build at this site instead of a Whole Foods store? a park? a gondola factory for the Canal when it’s cleaned? a spaceport? None of these actually! The Gowanus Institutes (GI) new plans call for two large buildings at the site with one building offering culinary arts & food production and the other building for creative and green industries. The new buildings known as Gowanus Industrial Park: A Center for Culinary and Industrial Innovation (CICI) would offer :

vocational training, business incubation and support services for entrepreneurs in the culinary and creative industries.”

Top View – 3rd St. at top and 3rd Ave. on left side

The mixed use space would be like a Foodie version of the Old Can Factory combined with the Brooklyn Creative league and the 3rd Ward. The proposal doesn’t get rid of Whole Foods either. Specifically the building closest to 3rd Avenue (yellow one above), which would be four stories with 75,000 sq ft of space, could be:

developed and operated by WFM [Whole Foods Market] as a state-of-the-art commercial food production and training facility as well as a kitchen incubator.”

The proposal goes on to say that Whole Foods should have a store front in this building that offers locally made products from the new rooftop farm! (Fabulous rooftop farm? What? ) This would be a green roof on both buildings and would be a 1.5 acre farm run by locals, but managed by Whole Foods. The other building, which would be five stories with 295,000 sq ft of space, would be used for the Creative & Green industries to manufacture their own items. (Sort of what many artist already do in the area.) Any remaining space would be used for research & development and related commercial uses.

NorthEast View

Gowanus Institutes (GI) says that the new buildings would connected by a public plaza and that the Coignet Building, the little historic building on the corner of 3 Ave. and 3rd St., should be turned into a “Museum of Industry” to highlight industrial innovation. It also notes that its buildings accounts for parking at the facility with a parking lot on-site that holds 350 cars and is +/- 21′ above sea level to account for flooding issues. Plus, they left room for public access to the Canal and even space for light water taxis.

SouthWest View

Gowanus Institutes (GI) press release of the proposal is available here and the images of the proposed buildings are here. More information on the GI’s website: