The Gowanus Canal is polluted, and the chosen site is in an area known to flood, but that's not stopping Whole Foods from building a market five times the size of what the current zoning allows.
In a Park Slope church rectory without air conditioning Wednesday night, voted to approve the plans for the 56,000 square foot organic grocery store. By approving them, the board is saying Whole Foods can build larger than what is allowed under current New York City zoning.
But at the meeting, the size of the store was only discussed by a couple of board members. Other issues – traffic, environmental impact, local food and jobs – dominated the discussion.
The motion passed with just three members voting against the plans.
At a , the CB6 land use committee voted to approve the plans, but with the following amendments:
- Whole Foods needs to complete a larger traffic study one year after it opens.
- The store must close at 10 p.m. instead of the proposed 11 p.m.
- The store must create a mock-up illustration of the proposed building with more windows facing Third Avenue and Third Street, and more plantings on the walkways. These designs are in the plans, but have yet to be shown to the community.
The committee also voted to send a letter to the EPA asking the agency to confirm that Whole Foods' location alongside the canal will not interfere with the Superfund clean-up process.
Whole Foods has pledged to provide full time jobs with benefits to 75 percent of the workers at the Gowanus store. Economic development committee co-chair Rick Luftglass reminded members that jobs were very important.
"They are quality jobs. There are benefits, an asset we should not undervalue," he said. "The basic premise is around job creation. They aren't manufacturing jobs, but they are jobs."
The plans now go to the Board of Standards and Appeals for approval.