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Whole Foods Build Given Green Light by Community Board

The organic superstore is one step closer to the Gowanus.

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.

Lou Howort June 10, 2011 at 04:45 AM
I posted a comment about this article on June 9, 11 and it has been taken down. I would like an explanation from Patch as to why this was done. I think it raises serious questions about the credibility of Patch if it was censored. This is supposed to be an open community forum and there was nothing in my comment that could have led to it being censored even though (and especially because) it was critical of Community Board 6 for approving plans that allow Whole Foods to not give benefits for 25 percent of all workers who are hired to work at this store. I request that my original comment be restored.
Georgia Kral June 10, 2011 at 11:24 AM
Lou, I didn't see your comment. Please repost it if you can. Thanks.
Lou Howort June 10, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Having not committed it to memory I'll try to reconstruct it. I think that the members of the CB 6 who voted to approve plans for the Whole Foods store in Park Slope should be, at the very least, ashamed of themselves for doing so. The above post states that "Whole Foods has pledged to provide full time jobs with benefits to 75 percent of the workers at the Gowanus store." It should also explicitly state that "Whole Foods has, in doing so, pledged to not provide 25% of the workers at the store with benefits." To approve a plan that up front gives Whole Foods the right do so is a disgrace. These 25% are sure to be the lowest payed workers hired to work at Whole Foods. These workers will need benefits such as medical and dental care the most because they are the ones who are least able to afford them. And don't forget, these workers have children who are also being denied these benefits. Whole Foods projects itself as "Green" and "Organic" but when it comes to providing a decent wage and benefits to all it's employees it is self serving and ugly. They can't justify having 25% of their employees as second class citizens and claim to have humane intentions. Apparently, all they are really interested in is their own bottom line.
Anthony June 10, 2011 at 05:39 PM
I'm not 100% sure about this, but those 25% not receiving benefits might be part-time workers. Usually part-time workers do not receive health benefits or the option of 401K's. While in college, I was a part-time worker and all I got was my pay check with no benefits that other full-time workers could have. Still, I don't think a Whole Foods is needed. The traffic is going to be horrendous. I find it hilarious how Whole Foods has to "complete a larger traffic study one year after it opens." Shouldn't we look at the potential traffic problems this is going to bring BEFORE the store opens? I think my severely retarded dog can do a better job than these board members.
Lou Howort June 10, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Anthony, You may be right that these will be part time workers but maybe not. This should have been made clear in the plan that Community Board 6 approved. All they had to do is include a statement like "25% of all workers at Whole Foods will be part time and will not be eligible for benefits." But they didn't, so until they do I would assume that the "25%" are not part time workers and that 25% of the workers at the Park Slope Whole Foods store will be full time and not receive benefits. The ball is in their to clarify this,
Michael Brown June 10, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Actually, the ball is not in their court to explain their business operations. This is a land use procedure, and to base land use decision on the proposed business model of an operator is arbitrary and capricious.
Lou Howort June 10, 2011 at 10:27 PM
Michael Brown, "Whole Foods has pledged to provide full time jobs with benefits to 75 percent of the workers at the Gowanus store." I would argue that this pledge is part of the land use procedure (or why make it at a land use committee meeting?). Whole Foods has openly pledged that 25% of the workers they will hire to work on the land being discussed will not receive benefits. So it looks like Whole Foods itself is basing the land use decision on a business model, arbitrary and capricious or not.
Michael Brown June 11, 2011 at 01:23 AM
That is of their own volition to offer up, as are the other completely unrelated facts that they boasted about at the meetings, such as 10% of their products being "local". It is just a shame that those at the meeting can't seem to tell the difference between what they should be voting on, and pretty facts and figures and pledges unrelated and unenforceable to the vote at hand.

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