New development rarely happens in Vinegar Hill, a tightly zoned, tiny neighborhood wedged between Dumbo, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the East River waterfront. But the owner of a parking lot 251 Front Street hopes to get an upzoning to construct a nine-story apartment building there, according to documents filed with the Department of City Planning.
The proposal calls for a 110,795-square-foot building with 95 apartments. In exchange for the rezoning, the developer would rent 23 units at below-market rates to families making an average of 60 percent of the Area Median Income, or $48,960 for a family of three. The project would also include an underground garage with room for 35 cars, which is required under the requested zoning.
The developer hopes to boost the zoning from R6B to R7A. The rezoning would double the density and height of what can be built on the lot, bringing the floor area ratio to 4.6 and capping a new building at 90 feet tall.
Think Architecture and Design, based in Downtown Brooklyn, will design the project. The firm also created the rendering above, which we pulled from planning documents. The building might fit in better with its row house neighbors if it were clad in red brick instead of the the greyish brown depicted in the rendering. Still, it’s reminiscent of most new construction nearby in Dumbo.
The project will wrap around a full block on Gold Street from Water to Front streets. Glass curtain walls will shroud the corners and split pieces of the brick façade apart. The façade will set back after the seventh floor, creating balconies and shared roof decks.
The owner is Paul Tocci, who purchased the property from the Catholic Church in 1992. (1970s tax photos show a church on the property, but it appears to have burned down or been demolished.) Tocci owns a few other sites in the area, including a warehouse a few hundred feet north on Gold Street. His development firm, Constellation Group, finished a five-story condominium building at 85 Hudson Avenue in the early 2000s and a seven-story condominium development a block away at 109 Gold Street in 2011.
He operated his family’s trash collection business, Tocci Brothers of Brooklyn, out of a warehouse in Vinegar Hill until the Giuliani administration shut it down in 1998. “Tocci Brothers, city regulators said, had a habit of paying off corrupt industry officials to preserve access to desirable clients,” the Times reported in 2001. However, he told the paper he was “a victim, not a culprit.”