Whole Foods has plans for a 52,000-square-foot store at Third Avenue and 3rd Street in Gowanus, assuming it gets the needed zoning variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals. Community members have been saying all along that the proposal is out of scale and bad for small business in the neighborhood, and now the Gowanus Institute has an alternative suggestion: that Whole Foods build its Brooklyn store somewhere else nearby, and that the site at Third Avenue and 3rd Street instead become home to Gowanus Industrial Park: A Center for Culinary and Industrial Innovation.
In a press release and on their website, the Gowanus Institute explains just what such a center would encompass:
GI proposes a manufacturing complex totaling 370,000 SF comprised of two interconnected buildings -- one serving the culinary arts and food production and the second building serving the creative and green industries. In tandem with the new buildings, GI proposes a program dedicated to vocational training, business incubation and support services for entrepreneurs in the culinary and creative industries. Facilities for these services would be on site in addition to space for research & development and related commercial uses. One of the two buildings, with 75,000 sq ft on four stories facing Third Avenue, could be developed and operated by WFM as a state-of-the-art commercial food production and training facility as well as a kitchen incubator. Such a facility would accommodate a variety of certified commercial kitchens and support space where WFM can train its regional cooking staff, provide food preparation and cooking education for small food producers, as well as rent the kitchens to small food producers, some who would be part of WFM's incubator program. Catering chefs could rent these kitchens to be taken off-site or to serve the event spaces proposed on the top floor of the adjoining building. WFM can also offer cooking classes to the public as it does at other locations. If WFM were to develop this facility and the incubator program, it could perhaps be named "Whole Foods Industries." Such a program could be run by WFM in partnership with existing service providers, with WFM focusing just on the food businesses. GI sees a unique opportunity for WFM to engage Brooklyn’s renowned artisanal food production community, and after piloting the program here could extend it to other major cities around the country.
Whaddaya say, Whole Foods? Here's one more rendering:
And here's the 3D model of the plan: