The fascinating Coignet Stone Company building, which stands isolated on the edge of a massive vacant lot at 360 Third Avenue in Brooklyn, will be preserved when Whole Foods opens at the location. But some preservationists are still unhappy with the popular supermarket's plans, because Whole Foods plans to build within five feet of the landmarked building. "Our building will almost wrap around that building," a Whole Foods spokesman tells the Daily News, adding that the store has agreed to fix up the 140-year-old building, which has fallen into disrepair.
Whole Foods bought the property in 2005, but the building remained because owner Richard Kowalski declined to sell the building itself. Dating back to 1872, it's the oldest concrete building in the city, and was built by Coignet to show off its advances in molded concrete. (All the ornate detail appears to be hand-carved stone, but is actually molded concrete.) The 2 ½-story, Italianate-style building was granted landmark status in 2006. "I grew up on Fourth Street in Park Slope, and I always admired it when I passed by," Gothamist publisher Jake Dobkin told the Post in 2010. "It was such a beautifully ornate little house in an otherwise barren area of garages and factories. When I was a kid, I suspected it was haunted."
An online petition urged the Landmarks Preservation Council not to grant Whole Foods a special dispensation to build so close to the Coignet building, but Whole Foods won approval anyway. The retailer has no plans to use the building, and Linda Mariano of the group Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus tells the News, "It’s a real travesty. This is disrespectful in every which way... It’s a New York City landmark and nobody has honored it, nobody has taken care of it." But at least now its hungry ghosts will have access to fresh smoothies and organic produce?