As a giant Whole Foods prepares to settle down in Gowanus, Brooklyn, a movement of artists and manufacturers rallies to defend the neighborhood, claiming that the all-organic store will inevitably destroy the industry in the region.
Creativity in the neighborhood is indeed on the rise, and tens of dozens of people have been pushing a city planning board to reject the arrival of the store, which bid on a 58,000 square-foot shop on Third Avenue and Third Street.
Whole Foods had planned on setting camp within a month, after confirming with the Board of Standards and Appeals, before Gowanus locals began bombarding the board with complaints.
Cassandra Weston of the Old American Can Factory opposes the idea. “New York City has enough high-end retail,” she said. “This unique industrial neighborhood needs to be protected.”
“Part of what makes Gowanus special is its economic diversity,” agreed Adam Kendall. “Small businesses and artists depend on it.”
In the meantime, researchers in the area have found that manufacturing spaces attract three times more jobs than retail ones. “These manufacturing jobs help families stay above the poverty line,” said Anita Durst.
Still, Whole Foods insists that it cares for its employees, boasting a ranking among Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the past fourteen years. Spokesman Michael Sinatra said the store plans to create 300 to 350 jobs, and also employs artists for various tasks.
“The art community is near and dear to us,” he said. “We employ in-house artists to do signage for our chalkboards. We often use café spaces to showcase art,” he added.