In 2012, Kennedy and I made a video (click above) poking some
fun at the community opposition to the building of a new Whole
Foods grocery store in Brooklyn—an example of the anti-development
impulse taken to the point of logical absurdity.
A few weeks ago, Brooklyn’s Whole Foods had its grand opening,
which The New Yorker took as an opportunity to
reflect on how gentrification and the opening of high-end
supermarkets are a mixed bag for cities. In an article titled,
“A Whole Foods Grows in Brooklyn,” Elizabeth Greenspan
Abby Subak, the director of Arts Gowanus, said her group decided
to work with Whole Foods to reach its shoppers, who might include
art buyers and supporters. But she said the group is treading “a
fine line”: it wants to broaden the audience for Gowanus’s artists,
but it doesn’t want to promote big development. “The concern is
that, by collaborating, we are perceived as endorsing development,”
Subak said. “We are not endorsing big-box development or luxury
She has good reason to be sensitive. As in a lot of communities
Whole Foods is eying, development is already transforming Gowanus.
In addition to the new grocery store, a seven-hundred-unit
condominium building is breaking ground. “People are freaked out,”
Subak said. Residents have protested against both of these
projects, part of a broader debate over how to develop Gowanus
sustainably and inclusively.
Is the value of building a grocery store on an desolate street
dotted with storage facilities, gas stations, and gated
warehouses—on a lot that’s been vacant for 132
years—really something worth debating? Are
Brooklyn residents “’freaked out’”? As Kennedy and I
discovered, not really.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/12/brooklyns-whole-foods-opens-on-empty-lot