900 units of upscale rental housing is quickly rising along Front Street in Stapleton, changing the way the waterfront looks and opening the door to new business opportunities to support thousands of new residents.

Currently the streets along the Stapleton waterfront include businesses such as a can-and-bottle redemption center; auto-body and collision shops; a lighting supply company; a car wash, and Acme Industrial which has been on Front Street since 1979. There’s also a building at 370 Front Street with a sign advertising a Hall for Rent and the Ocean Yacht Club Inc. 50/50 Skatepark is also located on Front Street.

A few For Sale signs on Front Street buildings signal that the area is preparing to undergo change as entrepreneurs hoping to fulfill the unmet needs of new residents swoop into the neighborhood.

Businesses such as auto-body shops and car washes will no longer represent “the highest and best use” of Front Street real estate, predicts James Prendamano, managing director of Casandra, the St. George brokerage firm that advertises itself as “currently representing over $1 billion in real estate,” with commercial and residential properties in its portfolio.

Inquiries from potential buyers and investors about the properties on the market include those “looking at the opportunities,” Prendamano said.

“People are thinking mixed use (meaning a combination of commercial businesses on the first floor and housing units above), and clamoring for more bulk and density,” he commented about zoning regulations.

The future of Front Street will likely be very different from its past.

Think “chic, cool retail — neat, small restaurants and galleries, with partments above,” Prendamano predicted, when asked to envision what most likely will replace the businesses now operating on Front Street.

“We’ve already sold one (parcel), and another one is in contract,” he said on April 22.

Ironstate’s development project along the waterfront includes 30,000 square feet of retail space as well as 900 residential apartments. Casandra Properties is the leasing agent for that space as well.

The hope, says Prendamano, is that this new commercial space on the waterfront will serve as “a magnet,” not only for incoming residents signing apartment leases, but will also attract other Stapleton residents, creating a welcoming “synergy” that will draw them down, walking from historic Tappen Park to amenities on the waterfront.