HPD to Finance Modular Development

Final section of a Build It Back modular home lowered into place in Broad Channel. Photo via NYC.gov.

Final section of a Build It Back modular home lowered into place in Broad Channel. Photo via NYC.gov.

By Raanan Geberer

A proposed 167-apartment development in East New York is one of the first projects using modular construction that the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development has selected to finance, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Modular construction refers to the off-site construction of prefabricated, factory-produced units (modules) that are then stacked on top of each other to form a full building. The Build It Back program implemented in Queens and Staten Island after Hurricane Sandy also used modular housing.

The modules will be constructed by FullStack Modular at its factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The proposal was submitted by a development team led by Thorobird Cos. and its local nonprofit partner, Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Services.

“Doing modular is a really important, long-term strategy for the city,” said New York City Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, whose last day on the job was Friday. “We know it saves time, and as it scales up, it will start saving money.”

Forest City Ratner, the same firm that built MetroTech, pioneered the technology in Prospect Heights with its tower at 461 Dean St., which used more than 900 individual modules that were prefabricated and stacked together, according to Curbed.

After encountering problems with a partner, Skanska, FCR created its own modular-construction subsidiary, FC Modular. In 2016, after topping-out at 461 Dean St., FCR sold FC Modular to FullStack Modular.

Developers increasingly have been using modular construction to build hotels and apartment buildings in New York City, citing the efficiencies of a shorter construction period and working without weather disruptions, according to Journal.

In the case of the East New York building, the city and development team are estimated that using modular construction will shorten the $70 million project’s construction time between 25 and 30 percent, the Journal reported.

The building, which still must make it through a public approval process, would be constructed at 581 Grant Ave. with a completion date somewhere in mid-2022. It would house units from studios to four-bedrooms for low-income and formerly homeless people, along with workforce training services, day care, a medical clinic and a landscaped rooftop.