CW Realty plans luxury rental at controversial Vinegar Hill site

The developer paid $20M for the property, which had included a historic church that the previous owner razed years ago

TRD New York /
Jan.January 03, 2020 08:00 AM
CW Realty’s Cheskie Weisz  and a rendering of 251 Front Street (Credit: CW Realty and Think Architecture and Design via New York YIMBY)

CW Realty’s Cheskie Weisz  and a rendering of 251 Front Street (Credit: CW Realty and Think Architecture and Design via New York YIMBY)

A luxury developer is taking a crack at a controversial Vinegar Hill development site.

CW Realty paid $20 million for the largest undeveloped site in the Brooklyn neighborhood, The Real Deal has learned. JLL’s Brendan Maddigan and Ethan Stanton brokered the sale.

The Williamsburg-based CW Realty, led by Cheskie Weisz, plans to construct a five story, 59-unit luxury rental complex at 251 Front Street.

But it may not be easy. The seller, Tocci Brothers, tore down a historic church on the property years ago, and was thwarted in its most recent effort to build a luxury rental.

In 2017, Tocci Brothers had envisioned a 72-unit luxury rental building with 18 units set aside for low-and-middle-income tenants. The firm sought a rezoning for the site under the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy, but when the local City Councilman Steve Levin decided not to back the project, the developer nixed the plans.

In 1992, Paul Tocci demolished St. Ann’s church, which is now a parking lot on the property. The historic church was designed by Irish-American architect Patrick Charles Keeley and built in 1860, featuring Gothic-style brick and a 130-foot tower. Community backlash following Tocci’s decision led the city to designate Vinegar Hill a historic district in 1997.

Despite Tocci Brothers’ unsuccessful effort — along with with a recent ruling by a judge against a developer’s rezoning attempt in Inwood — CW Realty said it is optimistic about building in North Brooklyn, where the firm has been busy.
It redeveloped 119-123 Kent Avenue into luxury apartments with a retail component, and completed construction nearby at 187 Kent Avenue, a 96-unit mixed-use development with 35,000 square feet of retail space.

CW Realty also recently purchased a massive site in Williamsburg with plans to build a 145-unit rental building and set aside 30 percent of the units as affordable.

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