The health food giant says it is not to blame for a big fissure in the historic Coignet building it shares a lot with

Whole Foods on crack: We didn’t do it

Old and new: The 140-year-old former New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company headquarters stands next to the about-to-open Gowanus Whole Foods Market.
The Brooklyn Paper
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Construction on the about-to-open Gowanus Whole Foods Market caused a massive crack in the wall of a historic building that shares the lot with the health food giant, claim locals who love the building and say the city is not doing enough to protect it.

The Whole Foods agreed to fix up the long-abandoned Coignet building on Third Avenue at Third Street as part of a deal to build a mega-market in the lot around it, but with just a handful of days left until the store’s Dec. 17 opening, neighbors say the pounding of piledrivers and sloppy excavation all but tore the place apart and the company is sidestepping the problem.

“Whole Foods does not want to be responsible,” said Linda Mariano, president of the activist group Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus, who noticed the crack last week.

A spokesman for Whole Foods denied the allegations, stressing that the food retailer will honor its promise to give the building’s already crack-littered façade a fresh face-lift.

“Nothing that occurred in relations to building our building for the store affected what’s happening to that building,” said Michael Sinatra, spokesman for Whole Foods. “I don’t think anything caused that crack. The building is a bit weathered.”

But Mariano is not convinced.

“They are liars; they have to be,” she said. “They better fess up.”

The former New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company headquarters may have been the first concrete building in the city when it was built in 1873. Park Slope mega-builder Edwin Litchfield took the operation over when Coignet went bankrupt, but the two-story building has sat abandoned since the 1960s. The city designated it a landmark in 2006.

A documentarian who made the Coignet building the subject of a short film said the crack is one of many and, whether or not the kale and kim chi vendor is responsible for the latest fissure, the building is hanging on by a thread.

“When I was filming, everyone in every interview said they saw it shaking [from the work] and said, ‘You’d better film it now before it falls down,’ ” said Max Kutner, director of “At the Corner of 3rd and 3rd” and contributor to this paper.

The auteur stopped short of pinning the blame on Whole Foods, but said city preservationists could definitely be doing more to hold the gourmet grocer to its word.

The Department of Buildings said it is investigating reports of damage to the building.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jay from Nyc says:
Ok so is anyone who is an engineer or expert in building materials look at this or is this just the neigjborhod big mouth popping off? Its a 140 year old vacatant building, thats not usually a formula for a building looking its best. Having said that whole food sucks
Dec. 9, 2013, 10:04 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Who takes responsibility for the graffiti that has plagued this building you all love so much?

Oh, it's ART!
Dec. 9, 2013, 10:31 am
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
If there's a skim coat on the building, then the cracks are superficial. If the cracks are structural you have issues. You'll need a licensed engineer to take a look inside and out.

Then again - if it collapses on the Whole Foods....
Dec. 9, 2013, 12:40 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I would hardly refer to this structure as a building, considering how old it is. If you don't mind my pointing this out, this structure should be referred to as a "built". Pardon the interruption.
Dec. 9, 2013, 12:54 pm
Sallust from Sheepshead Bay says:
1) Who the hell else did it?!

2) This idiotic building should never have been landmarked to begin with. It was a novelty building, always, and if anyone cared THAT much for it, they should have bought the damn thing themselves.

3) There ARE numerous more important historical sites, edifices etc that are ignored by the blogging idiots who made this their "cause"

4) But doing REAL historical research, and doing it outside an area convenient to one of Brooklyn's "silk road" (hah hah) would have been too difficult, wouldn't it?
Dec. 9, 2013, 5:52 pm
Sallust from Sheepshead Bay says:
p/s-- the ONLY reason it was landmarked, btw, it was an easy "gimme" for well-intentioned idiots. Same as the knuckleheads who wanted to 'preserve' the trash over at Navy Yard... Nostalgia ignorance all the way home and now where are they?
Dec. 9, 2013, 5:54 pm
Francine Parkman from Gowanus says:
And all the great preservationist proponents of this dump are where? Mind you, I have zero use and much loathing for Whole Foods-- bring back Red Hook Crushers!!!-- but that anyone spent 10 seconds trying to 'save' this s***hole is ridiculous. And about 10 seconds more than the same yokels have spent doing anything with the building afterwards.
Dec. 9, 2013, 7:34 pm
Jim from Carroll Gardens says:
What Sallust from Sheepshead Bay said.
Dec. 9, 2013, 9:30 pm
Hans Onderdoonk from Bushwick says:
Love Linda, hate Whole Foods but this is not a worthy cause.
Dec. 10, 2013, 11:09 am
judahspechal from bed stuy says:
I am confused here a bit, If Whole Foods pledged to fix it up, why all the noise? They are going to fix it, correct? Pretty sure most who heat WH will one way or the other end of there.

BTW, Often wondered why the LPC doesn't have a fund for a situation like this. They could restore then sell the buildings.
Dec. 10, 2013, 11:32 am
neighbor from local says:
Pile driving can and does cause cracks. Many piles were rammed into the site for the store construction.
During that phase of construction cracks were being monitored on other buildings in the ares, but why not this one?

And it was the Army Corp that called this building our to be recognized as a landmark. It building material is unique, the same thing used in construction of St Pat's in Manhattan. There is no other building like it in all of the city--marking innovation during Brooklyn's own industrial beginnings.
Dec. 10, 2013, 3:48 pm
harry from brooklyn says:
neighbor: that unique building material is known as "concrete," and Coignet used it only in parts of St. Pat's.
Dec. 10, 2013, 4:38 pm
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
harry from brooklyn says: "that unique building material is known as "concrete," and Coignet used it only in parts of St. Pat's"

Yep. That building was a showroom/sampler for a company that produced poured-concrete (fake stone) architect. details and went bust in 10 years.
Dec. 11, 2013, 11:30 am
Margaret from Gowanus says:
Love your headline: whole foods on crack - they had to have been to build a supposedly healthy foods store on the banks of floodzone Gowanus Canal where the water is an open sewer and full of deadly stuff and was declared a superfund site!
Dec. 16, 2013, 8:54 am

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