Friday, December 11, 2015

Modular construction a "simple" solution to New York City's housing problem?

An op-ed in Crain's New York Business, Simple solutions to the city's housing problem: Higher density, turn-key development and new construction methods can help add the supply that the market needs to meet demand and improve affordability.

Neil Binder, founder of Bellmarc, a residential real estate brokerage firm, writes, in part:
Modular construction. “Modules” can be fabricated in a factory, transported to the site and installed piece by piece. Once assembled and sealed, the modules form a complete and integrated building. Building in a factory setting can enable better construction in less time, with less waste, and at half the cost. This has yet to take off in New York, though it is being attempted by Forest City Ratner next to Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It is unfortunate that the city has not been able to create a system that would foster this type of construction. Developers would be able to build quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality.
It should be noted, of course, that Forest City Ratner's attempt has involved some glaring flaws, including water damage and mold, and it doesn't look like any other modular buildings will be built at Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

Maybe modular would work better for buildings less ambitious. Maybe it would be easier thanks to a city or state "innovation grant" or "tax break."

Surely Forest City Ratner is looking to amortize the costs of its factory and research effort, rather than shut down the factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, as has been warned. Stay tuned.

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