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Posted by on Nov 23, 2016 in Blog |

Prefab Affordable Housing Debuts

What is believed to be the world’s tallest modular building made its debut Tuesday in Brooklyn, a 32-story rental tower constructed with prefabricated units stacked like Legos.

Forest City Ratner Cos. is now leasing the building, known as 461 Dean. It has 363 studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The tower, which consists of half market-rate apartments and half for affordable housing tenants, is part of the 22-acre Pacific Park Brooklyn development which will have 6,430 apartments.

Across New York, in the past few years, several smaller modular projects, of four- to seven-story buildings, have been developed, said Tom Hardiman, executive director of the Modular Building Institute, an international trade group.

In Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood, the 28-unit apartment building called the Stack opened earlier this year. Far more common are smaller projects. One- and two-story commercial and single-family residential projects could number in the hundreds.

“We are seeing other large cities embrace modular to address the ‘affordable housing’ issue,” said Mr. Hardiman, who said 461 Dean was the tallest modular building the group was aware of. “I think what will drive greater adoption is more successful multi story projects, not only in New York, but across the country.”

Modular construction translates into less time and fewer workers on a construction site because 80% to 90% of the building can be finished in the factory, said Roger Krulak, chief executive of Full Stack Modular LLC, which bought the core assets of Forest City’s modular manufacturing company.

“If you turn your lens away from New York and look at the world, modular building is happening everywhere,” Mr. Krulak said.

Like any test with new techniques, the Brooklyn project hit some speed bumps, mainly in the form of litigation with its former modular manufacturing partner.

But Tuesday, officials with Forest City and the building’s designer, SHoP Architects. proudly displayed their end product. “We wanted to do one, get it right, prove it, show it off and regroup and then think about the future.” said Adam Greene, vice president of residential development at Forest City.

Overlooking Barclays Center, the tower, with the exception of its ground floor, was built by connecting rectangular and sometimes triangular boxes. Forest City and Skanska USA launched a manufacturing company in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to build those boxes, which were constructed with finished interiors.

Legal disputes between the two companies stalled the project, but Forest City was able to buy out Skanska’s interest, restart manufacturing and finish the building.

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Article credit to The Wall Street Journal