Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Will de Blasio's new modular rule help Atlantic Yards? Unlikely, but it might help Forest City's factory

From Crain's New York Business, Modular construction may get a lift from the city:
Modular housing developers may be getting a boost from the de Blasio administration.
A proposal unveiled last month that would allow for taller and more architecturally diverse buildings in some New York City neighborhoods would also provide a welcome change for developers who want to build modular... Because units are stacked on top of each other, the floors in modular buildings are much thicker than those conventionally constructed. So despite having no additional square footage, modular projects are taller than normal, which has made it difficult to meet height requirements in certain neighborhoods in the city.
...The administration’s proposal, announced Feb. 20, will not only incentivize developers to create more affordable housing and eliminate onerous parking requirements, it will also aim to increase building height limits (but not allowable square footage) in certain mid- and higher-density neighborhoods.
Atlantic Yards impact?

That won't directly affect Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park (yet), because it's unclear whether Greenland Forest City Partners will launch another modular tower; Forest City still aims to finish the stalled B2 tower, having ramped up production at the once-stalled modular factory, but not yet delivering units to the site.

Also, there are state-imposed (not city-imposed) height limits in the project, given that the project is subject to a state override of city zoning.

Should the developers decide that the square footage they seek to deliver requires additional height, they'd go back to the state.

That didn't seem to be an issue with the first tower. B2 is 322 feet high and 346,000 gross square feet, meeting the height limit and perhaps even exceeding the square footage limit, though I'm sure it passed muster.

A help for Forest City?

That said, if Forest City wants to make modular a viable business, delivering modules for other projects, the increase in building height limits surely would be a help.

There are other hurdles of course, involving reliability and cost, (Here's coverage of an industry panel.)

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