Landmarks Preservation Commission is not buying the organic grocery giant’s stories

Plum-lord! City to cite Whole Foods 2nd time for ‘neglecting’ old building

Fined dining: The city is fining Whole Foods, right, for failing to fix up the Coignet building, left.
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The city is slapping the new Gowanus Whole Foods Market with a second fine for letting an historic building it owns fall apart, a Landmarks Preservation Commission spokesperson reported.

The commission hit the grocery giant with a $3,000 fine in December for failing to maintain the exterior of the Coignet building at Third Avenue and Third Street, which Whole Foods promised to fix up as part of a deal to allow it to build on the lot around it, but that ticket was dismissed on a technicality — the city forgot to bring a piece of paperwork to court, according to a spokeswoman. Now, the fancy food-seller claims it started restoring the Coignet facade on March 10, but preservationists are not buying it and are getting ready to cite the upscale grocer again, according to a city spokeswoman.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission rep Damaris Olivo about the ticket, adding that she did not know when the organic grocer could expect to receive it.

A Whole Foods spokesman said he could not comment on the impending fine until his office sees it, but claimed work on the building, once the New York and Long Island Coignet Stone Company headquarters, started last Monday and is targeted for completion in autumn or winter of this year. He stressed that the timeline is not set in stone.

“Work officially started on March 10 and it’s a little unclear how long it might take until we’re actually in the midst of the project,” spokesman Michael Sinatra said.

A neighbor who has accused the organic giant of destroying the building, which is an official city landmark, says he is skeptical that the company will follow through on its pledge to give the place a facelift, arguing that it did nothing to fix up the building even after the first fine came down last year.

“The day after they got issued the violation, scaffolding went up, but still nothing happened as a couple months went by,” said Gowanus resident and musician Martin Bisi, who documented the decay of the banisters on the structure’s front steps.

Whole Foods has repeatedly denied that it has anything to do with the structure falling apart.

The Coignet building was designated a landmark in 2006 and may have been the city’s first concrete building when it was erected in 1873.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
What is wrong with these people! It's a small building and it's a gem, on the outside corner of their humongous lot. Restore the building already!
March 14, 2014, 2:32 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Have to say that I am fairly dubious concerning what Whole Foods defines as work having been started. Do they simpply mean planning? Is there a plan and timeline set yet?
if there isn't, they are very far behind and desrve running fines until they live up to their agreement. Surely they have loads of money and resources to repair this building. It's just a little house, so it should be restored pretty quickly. If they aren't, the only reason can be that they're not trying at all. Fines might be a good way to get them moving!
March 14, 2014, 7:50 am
Seriously from Actual Brooklyn (Park Slope) says:
Seriously!! Tear this old POS down already. No one really uses it and we could put in more housing, even the affordable kind if need be. Not sure they'd benefit by living next to whole foods and it might be more of a tease, but still, it's better than some old shack!
March 14, 2014, 8:48 am
JAZ from Hunting Redbeards says:
Must be a full moon cause I actually agree with Chooch for once.
March 14, 2014, 10:26 am
Jim from Carroll Gardens says:
That building is not worth the faux brick that covers it. Tear it down or turn it into a wine store.
March 14, 2014, 1:53 pm
ty from pps says:
It is interesting that Whole Foods is getting fined now for "not living up to their agreement," but the ACTUAL OWNER of the property was never fined over the last decade of decay.... ok, 8 years of decay.
March 14, 2014, 2:48 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
This kind of building needs to be preserved and that was part of the original deal. Whole Foods with it's suburban-style parking lot and it's shuttered pedestrian access (they have already padlocked the southern pedestrian entrance and it's been that way since January), that is what is detrimental to what should be a true neighborhood. Hooray for WF being there, but that building is part of what makes Brooklyn Brooklyn. The transplants will never get it, but hopefully they will get out.
March 14, 2014, 10:39 pm
ty from pps says:
Also, interesting Jim thinks this is a "transplant" issue. I know for a fact that there were many man "transplants" calling for WF to reorient their site to be more integrated with the street, instead of the parking lot... the "locals" will never get that, but hopefully they will smarten up .
March 15, 2014, 7:29 am
ty from pps says:
*many many
March 15, 2014, 7:29 am
frank from furter says:
pull whole foods C of O. close it until the building is fixed...want to see it happens quickly?
March 15, 2014, 11:29 am
The Duke from Flatbush says:
This has nothing to do with locals vs transplants. It's all about a greedy corporation going back on their promises once they achieve their goals. WF is not going to renovate the building because it doesn't benefit their bottom line in any way, so sadly it rots until it must be torn down.
March 15, 2014, 4:10 pm
ty from pps says:
Again, and in no way discounting WF's weird agreement, where were the fines and admonishments for the previous SEVEN years??!! Why is a landmark only worthy of protection when a rich corporation has a contractual tie to a property. But not the ACTUAL owner?!
March 16, 2014, 12:18 pm
Jeanine Garagiola from South Brooklyn says:
The building is crap; only well-intentioned idiots who in fact know NOTHING about greater Brooklyn history ** ever ** though this worth 'preserving.' But, it was an easy give away so Landmarks said yes and where are all the knucklehead 'preservationists' now? Yeah, nowhere, and STILL ignorant of the greater history in their midst.
March 16, 2014, 12:22 pm
Alphonse Ingliterra from Park Slope says:
Whole Foods is garbage but at least they bring some jobs to Brooklyn. Coignet building is garbage and... does what for whom? Bring back Red Hook Crushers and you might have an arugment. The self-centered fake 'activist' fools who lobbied to save this building have studiously ignored it ever since...

... Oh but they've had time, $$$ and energy to buy their own houses, cars, underpay their off the books nannies etc.

White people slay me, former graduate students and narcissicistic bloggers even more.
March 16, 2014, 12:25 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
It's a beautiful building and it's on the outside corner of the lot. It would make a perfect entrance to the market. Totally in the interests of Whole Foods to renovate the building. It would be a big PR score for Whole Foods to renovate the building. A mystery why they're resisting the idea.
March 16, 2014, 1:52 pm
The Duke from Flatbush says:
I agree about the building, but I don't see the mystery. WF used the promise of fixing the building to get their foot in the door. Now they have what they want, and it will cut into their bottom line to fix it up, so it rots. I guess the fines are cheaper than actually renovating it.
March 16, 2014, 4:32 pm
Jim from Carroll Gardens says:
To The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show:

"It's a beautiful building"? "It would make a perfect entrance to the market"? "Whole Foods needs a big PR score"? "A mystery why they're resisting the idea"?


The only sentence within your comment that is a fact is that it (the building) is on the outside corner of the lot.
March 19, 2014, 6:40 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
"Fined dining: The city is fining Whole Foods, right, for failing to fix up the Coignet building, left."

I'd like to personally thank the BP for clarifying which building is which in the above drawing. In the opinion of John Wasserman, the “Coigent” building on the left, even in it's current state, is much better looking than the building on the right (Wholefoods).
Nothing personal against the foods they have, as a whole.
March 20, 2014, 5:09 pm

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