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Keep Gowanus Manufacturing: Ask NYC Board of Standards & Appeals to Reject Whole Foods Market's Variance Application

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Keep Gowanus Manufacturing

Whole Foods Market is proposing to build regional, suburban-style mega-market in a thriving manufacturing district on an active industrial canal in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The proposed store will be nearly six times the allowable area for food stores in manufacturing-zoned areas in New York City. The Gowanus Institute studied Whole Foods Market's variance application, and in its report recommends that BSA reject the application.

The Details

Whole Foods Market is proposing a 78,000 square foot facility, including a 58,000 square foot retail food market and a 248-vehicle surface parking lot within an M2 zoning district.

Why reject it? 

If built, the proposed development would substantially alter the essential manufacturing character of the Gowanus neighborhood, and contradict NYC's long-range goals to diversify its economy, increase higher paying jobs, and provide safe, healthy neighborhoods for residents and workers. The development will impact quality of life for area residents and workers, by increasing traffic and decreasing affordability. The development may limit the ability of the EPA to remediate the canal under the Superfund program.

Preserve Manufacturing and Create Higher-Paying Jobs

The development site is in the heart of Gowanus, an industrial community that provides jobs and economic opportunity in manufacturing, maritime, and creative industries, and is located within the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone. City agencies in NYC and across the country have spent millions of dollars to encourage the kind of mix of businesses that are already thriving along the Gowanus Canal.

Manufacturing jobs offer some of the highest wages in the private sector, with average wages nearly double those earned in service-sector jobs, such as those in retail. If the Whole Foods Market site were developed as-of-right as currently zoned, the site could support at 370,000 square foot manufacturing facility, and more, higher-paying jobs than the retail positions promised by Whole Foods Market.

Maximize NYC’s Working Waterfront

Barging is good for the City. Utilizing the Whole Foods site for its current zoned use will help meet NYC’s goal of revitalizing the working waterfront, and as one of only two industrial canals in the entire City, the Gowanus Canal is uniquely suited for barging as a mode of transport, removing thousands of trucks from the road.

Maintain Zoning Certainty

The Gowanus neighborhood has remained a haven for important industrial businesses while manufacturing districts throughout NYC have been rezoned. Urban land zoned for manufacturing is a critical ingredient in the City’s economic success, and the City has a responsibility to maintain the integrity of its zoning regulations and the protection that they offer to land and business owners.

Make Development Environmentally Compatible

As a Superfund site, the Gowanus canal will undergo serious environmental remediation over the next decade, and development should not negatively impact this or future efforts to improve the environmental quality of the canal area.

If this variance were granted and the Whole Foods Market developed, it would set back decades of hard work to establish the canal area as a thriving industrial community focusing on maritime uses, green manufacturing, and the creative industries.

To New York City Board of Standards and Appeals:

We urge you to reject Whole Foods Market's request for a variance to build a regional mega-market on the Gowanus Canal, in the heart of an active and growing manufacturing district.

To NYC Economic Development Corporation, NYC Department of City Planning, NYC Department of Transportation, NYC Small Business Services, the Mayor’s Office for Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses:

We urge you to continue to support urban manufacturing in New York City.

Together, and with the support of City agencies and our elected officials, we can stop poor planning and help preserve and create real opportunities for development in Gowanus.

The next BSA hearing on the Whole Foods application is scheduled for Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm at NYC BSA, 40 Rector Street, 6th floor, Room E.

Sign the petition to express your support, and attend the hearing on Jan. 24. To read the complete Gowanus Institute report, or for more information on the proposed development, its impacts and alternatives, visit or



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