The empty hulk of a building at North 4th and Bedford is the site of the latest Whole-Foods-in-Williamsburg rumor.
The Post reports that the property has changed hands, with the Backer Group having sold to new owners. The new owner confirms that “several national tenants are interested” in the property (isn’t that always the case?), and the Post says that “sleuths have ferreted out” that Whole Foods is the intended tenant.
This latest rumor has a bit more heft than the recent vague rumors of a Whole Foods on Kent Avenue. The fact that the property has new owners also lends some credence to the idea (the Backer Group had previously floated CVS, Marshalls, Starbucks, Capital One and other national chains for their various properties on this block of Bedford Avenue).
Still, some things don’t quite add up. The Post has the new owner saying that the development will be 150,000 square feet, a third of which will be luxury rentals. According to city records, the whole site (lots 6 and 24) is 47,400sf – at an FAR of 2.0, that only yields a tad less than 95,000sf (maybe I’m missing something with the MX M1/R6B rules). But others are telling the Post that Whole Foods will occupy about 40,000sf, and New York Sports Club another 15,000sf on the second floor. That works out to about two-thirds of the development, in line with the owner’s estimates.
Other numbers that have to be worked out are the size of the market itself. 40,000sf is, believe it or not, on the small side for a Whole Foods – both their Union Square store and their proposed Gowanus Store are 50,000sf or more. And while there will certainly be plenty of foot traffic at North 4th and Bedford, between customers and deliveries, a market of this size will make the vehicular traffic in this corner of the neighborhood even worse.
And I wonder what Williamsburg Food Town (a Backer Group tenant) thinks of all this? (Or Retro Fitness, for that matter, which is just opening up a 20,000sf fitness center around the corner on North 3rd and Berry.)