The Real Deal New York

Food fight: W’burg grocer claims Aurora, Midtown Equities misconstrued Whole Foods building plans

Foodtown argues inadequate parking will cause massive congestion

June 14, 2016 05:06PM
By E.B. Solomont

WF

The owners of Foodtown of Williamsburg claim Aurora Capital Associates and Midtown Equities misconstrued building plans for the Whole Foods at 242 Bedford Ave

UPDATED, June 16, 8:42 p.m.: Don’t look now, but there’s a case of sour grapes at a new supermarket development in Williamsburg.

The owners of Foodtown of Williamsburg, a longtime presence at 159 North 3rd Street, have filed a lawsuit claiming the developers of a retail center across the street – which, hey maybe you’ve heard, will house a new Whole Foods market – flouted the city’s zoning laws and will cause massive traffic congestion in the neighborhood.

In the suit, the grocery store alleges that Bobby Cayre’s Aurora Associates and Michael Cayre’s Midtown Equities wrongfully applied for, and obtained, zoning waivers at their 150,000-square-foot development at 242 Bedford Avenue. As a result, the suit claims, there will be “woefully inadequate parking” that will pose a “hazard and nuisance” to the neighborhood.

Michael Cayre’s Midtown Equities, Bobby Cayre’s Aurora Capital and Alex Adjmi paid $23 million for the Bedford property in 2012, after beating out Joe Tabak to acquire the development site from Yahuda Backer.

Plans at the time called for a $40 million, 150,000-square-foot development to include Whole Foods, a New York Sports Club and luxury rental apartments. WeWork is planning to take 40,000 square feet at 242 Bedford.

Foodtown, a fairly small grocer, has quite a bit at stake: The Whole Foods development is located just 400 feet away. And to make matters worse, a new Trader Joe’s is coming to 406 Kent Avenue.

In the suit, Foodtown said Aurora and Midtown Equities circumvented parking requirements under the city’s zoning law by filing building plans to convert the former warehouse without altering most of the building’s perimeter walls, instead of building a new building entirely.

But in gutting the property, the suit claims, the developers stripped the building “to a skeletal state by demolishing virtually all of the existing walls… and rebuilt them essentially from scratch, with the exterior walls and interior floors being entirely replaced.”

Had the developers complied with zoning requirements, the site would have 100 additional parking spaces, the suit alleged. The suit also claims that Whole Foods will occupy more than 10,000 square feet, which is not permitted in the M1-2 manufacturing district.

Representatives from Aurora and Midtown Equities did not immediately comment.

The suit, filed June 8 in Kings County Supreme Court, also names the city’s Department of Buildings, which allegedly failed to revoke building permits when it became aware of Foodtown’s complaints.

Correction: A prior version of this article misstated the names of the owners of Foodtown of Williamsburg.

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