Whole Foods Market may be two steps closer to building its first Brooklyn store.
The company, which is planning a store at Third Street and Third Avenue, recently received a pair of permits from the city’s Department of Buildings, one for building a construction fence and another for a foundation, according to the agency.
The permits, initially granted in July and reissued Aug. 27, are signs that there could soon be movement on the site, observers said.
But the Texas-based company would not offer additional details.
Whole Foods Market spokesman Fred Shank had only this to say: “We are currently working on revising our plans for our Brooklyn store and hope to be able to announce updated details in the near future.”
“We remain extremely excited about bringing the first Whole Foods Market to Brooklyn,” he added.
Craig Hammerman, the district manager of Community Board 6, said the board has yet to hear from Whole Foods about any revised plan. “We assume they will follow the original plan,” he said. “Anything else is speculation.”
The company initially proposed a 68,000 square-foot store, with a publicly accessible waterfront esplanade along the Gowanus Canal. It was expected to open in 2008.
According to filings with the DOB, the total construction floor area stands at 76,627 square feet, with 169 parking spaces — down from 420 once proposed.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear from them in the next few months, and have a chance to talk about what’s going on,” Hammerman said.
“It sounds like the permits were more for site preparation than actual construction,” he added.
Eric McClure, the campaign coordinator for Park Slope Neighbors, a group that has closely watched the Whole Food’s saga, said his group is still awaiting “constructive feedback” from the company about its recommendations to reduce the number of parking spaces, as well as to install an environmentally friendly green roof.
Last winter, the company said a green roof was not feasible for its Brooklyn store.
Still, McClure said, there is hope that the spirit of compromise will prevail.
“There are probably better locations [for the store],” he said. “But we can use good-quality supermarkets and they have a good reputation for customer service,” McClure said.
“If they were to do some smart and relatively painless things to improve their plan, it could be a win-win for everyone,” he said.
During the 1800s through 2004, the site was home to a number of industrial operations, including lumberyards, a petroleum company, coal yards, an automobile repair shop, a trucking company and a junkyard.
Whole Foods is paying for an environmental clean-up of the polluted site, under the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Brownfield Cleanup Program, which provides incentives to clean up former industrial areas prior to their redevelopment.
The company still awaits permits from the DEC.
Area resident Margaret Maugenest said an upscale grocery store would not be the best use on this site.
“We would like Whole Foods to donate the site for wetlands conservancy,” she said. “The would be pioneering engineered wetlands.”
Maugenest, a member of the group Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus (FROGG) said she isn’t jumping at the chance to shop at the store, even if it does get built.
“I have no opinion of Whole Foods because I’m a member of the Park Slope Food Co-op,” she said.
©2008 Community News Group
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