Those of you who live in Gowanus or visit the Whole Foods there regularly may have noticed a lovely brick and concrete building right behind it. Well, a few years ago Whole Foods promised to repair the crumbling exterior of the building, known as the Coignet building, as a part of the deal that allowed the mega-grocer to come to Gowanus in the first place.
Aside from a roof repair done two years ago, it seems like they’ve reneged on their promise.
Brooklyn Paper reports that for the second time in three months, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is going to slap Whole Foods with a hefty fine (last time it was $3000) for not fulfilling the terms of the agreement. The first time around Whole Foods Gowanus got off on a technicality after some paperwork was forgotten. Following the narrow escape, some scaffolding went up around the old building, but residents say it was only for show and nothing has been done since.
The Coignet building was originally constructed in 1873 as a testament to the beauty of fine stonework, but has stood empty for decades, accumulating graffiti and falling apart in chunks (Brownstoner has some haunting photos of the interior as well). Even so, it was given landmark status in 2006 and put up for sale nearly two years ago. But, alas, no one wants to buy a dilapidated building before it’s fixed, so the structure’s $3 million price tag has been flapping in the wind for quite some time.
A Whole Foods spokesperson told the Paper that restoration officially began on March 10 and said construction should be complete by the end of the year, but that probably won’t stop the fine, which appears to already be in the pipeline.
If the renovation goes ahead as
planned required, the Coignet building would be the perfect place for any business wishing to latch onto the foot traffic the new Whole Foods is pulling in and plenty of interested parties have already come sniffing around. You have to admit, even in its current state, the building’s still got charm.
To learn more about the Coignet building and how its story became intertwined with Whole Foods’, check out the trailer for the documentary, At the Corner of 3rd and 3rd, below:
Follow Nikita Richardson on Twitter @nikitarbk