Controversial Vinegar Hill Rentals With Affordable Units Inch Closer to Reality


Dumbo has been a hotbed of new building activity in recent years, but not so its next-door neighbor, pocket-size Vinegar Hill, which is known more for its quaint cobblestone streets and snug townhouses that rarely go on the market than new-construction apartment buildings, although there are a few.

Developer Paul Tocci of the Constellation Group hopes to add one more to the neighborhood, 251 Front Street, with 18 affordable units.

brooklyn real estate 251 front street dumbo vinegar hill

Constellation Group proposes to construct a 72,000-square-foot rental building with 72 apartments altogether, including 18,000 square feet of affordable housing. It’ll also have parking for 27 cars.

This differs slightly from the original plan — in December, the proposal was for a 92,000 square foot building, 23,000 square feet of which would have been set aside for affordable housing. The updated renderings reflect the change in proposed size, Tocci told Brownstoner.

brooklyn real estate 251 front street dumbo vinegar hill

The mixed-use building will stand nine stories and have stores on the ground floor. The architect on the project is think! architecture & design, the architect of record for The Oosten in Williamsburg.

Right now, the site is used as a parking lot. Tocci bought the property from the Catholic Church in 1992 for $570,000, records show. At one time it was the site of St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church.

brooklyn real estate 251 front street dumbo vinegar hill

St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church, demolished in 1992. Photo via Brooklyn Public Library

The building took its latest step toward becoming a reality this past week when a requested rezoning for the building was approved by the City Planning Commission. The developer wants to rezone the site from R6B to R7A, according to YIMBY, to build higher and more densely. City Council will still have to vote on the matter.

In January, the local Community Board voted against it, saying the height of the proposed building does not fit the character of the area, according to reports. Immediately next door is a row of Greek Revival houses, part of the Vinegar Hill Historic District Area 1.

No applications for a new-building permit have been filed as yet.

brooklyn real estate 251 front street dumbo vinegar hill

The building will bring new construction and more units of housing to the neighborhood, which is something of a time capsule, despite a handful of new developments. Across the street is 99 Gold Street, a modern, five-story apartment building with 87 apartments that launched condo sales during the housing crisis and was forced to go rental.

Other new buildings in the area include 47 Bridge Street, whose 25 condos share a wine cellar, and 185 York, a condo building that sold out quickly in 2012 but did not get its certificate of occupancy until 2016, leaving buyers in limbo.

[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]

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