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Contentious Vinegar Hill mixed-income building gets city planning approval

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The Front Street development will have 72 apartments, 18 of which will be permanently affordable

Rendering courtesy Constellation Group

Vinegar Hill is not exactly a bastion of new development, thanks, as YIMBY points out, to extremely tight zoning in the tiny neighborhood nestled between Dumbo, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the East River waterfront.

But development, it comes to us all, and this week, a proposed mixed-income residential project set for 251 Front Street crossed a major milestone, when the New York City Planning Commission approved the rezoning of the property. Currently a parking lot, the block-long site is the future home of a 72,000-square-foot building, featuring a total of 72 shiny new units, 18 of which will be earmarked as permanently affordable at 60 percent of the area median income. (In an homage to its roots, it will also offer residents a 27-car parking garage.)

The project, to be developed and operated by the Constellation Group, is a somewhat scaled-back version of the original proposal for the site, which called for a nine-story, 110,795-square-foot building with 93 units, 23 of which would have been designated as affordable. At a meeting in January, though, Vinegar Hill residents made a play to block the proposed project, expressing concerns that the development might “overburden the neighborhood’s infrastructure,” and could create a “domino effect,” drawing other large-scale developers to the quaintly cobblestone hood.

The new, approved version of the development is about 65 percent of the size of the building initially proposed. Now, it’s headed to the City Council for final review.

Needless to say, the developers are pleased with the news. “This development will give moderate income families and individuals the opportunity to live in an affordable home in an area with accessible mass transit as well as in close proximity to numerous employment opportunities in cutting edge industries,” representatives for the Constellation Group said in a statement.