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Tweak to the Whole Foods Williamsburg Rumor?

Brownstoner, citing an a direct but unnamed source, is reporting that the rumored Whole Foods at Kent and Metropolitan is not going to be at the Monster Island, but instead on the other side of Kent Avenue. The site in question runs along Kent from Metropolitan to North 3rd, the open lot on the corner of Metropolitan, and a one-story green shed occupying the North 3rd corner. Unlike the west side of Kent, this side of the avenue is zoned for medium-density residential and commercial, so an as-of-right development would be similar in scale to that which is just finishing up at 175 Kent.

A quick search of city records shows virtually no activity on this site in ages. The property is owned by Manhattan LLC in Manhattan (the same LLC owns the adjacent property on North 3rd Street). There have been no property transactions since 2006, and no DOB actions since 1998. The lot is used to store building materials, and seems to be operated by a Chinese company, which would square with the address of the LLC, which is on Grand Street in Chinatown.

This site does seem to have more of the amount of space that a Whole Foods would require (particularly if you include the site on North 3rd), but with no plans filed, any mixed-use development is a long, long way off. Too long, it seems to me, for a retailer to commit to – particularly when there are large (but perhaps large enough) retail spaces at both 175 and 184 Kent. The west side of Kent still makes more sense for a retailer to build ground-up. Residential is not allowed as of right on that side of the street, so commercial development could be the best play there.

For the moment, I’m putting all of this in the category of Apple store and Starbucks speculation. Maybe Whole Foods (or some other high-end grocery store) is coming to the neighborhood, and maybe they’re coming to this part of Kent Avenue. We’ll see.

And while all of this (probably idle) speculation is going on about the Kent Avenue site, there is some serious demolition happening at the Con Ed property on the west side of River Street. According to DOB, Con Ed is demolishing “three (3) retired fuel tanks”, each constructed of concrete over 20″ thick. What will replace these riverside tanks is not known (how about a waterfront esplanade?!?).

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