Time will tell, but there are signs that the future of modular will not be towers like the B2 high-rise at Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, but rather more modest efforts from the modular arm of Forest City Ratner,
That's why I consider overblown the observation, in a Real Deal profile of former Forest City executive Melissa Burch, regarding Forest City's "once-faltering experiment with modular construction." Heck, they're still making interior repairs on modules that were supposed to have been delivered complete. That's hardly steady.
The BD & C also hints at some major changes in factory output, from modules aimed at high-rise apartments in New York City--remember, Forest City claimed to have "cracked the code" regarding high-rise modular--to less ambitious components for non-residential projects that could go outside the city.
So too does a Real Deal article, The Future of NYC Real Estate, that cites Susan Hayes, president of FC Modular, in paraphrase as anticipating that modular will "become a mainstream method for multi-family homes, hospitals and dormitories in the next five to 10 years."
FC Modular might seem to be faltering too; on 11/30/15, it offered a 90-day warning that it may lay off some or all 220 workers (194 of them union) from its Brooklyn Navy Yard factory once modules are finished for the B2 tower at 461 Dean Street, next to the Barclays Center.
That's vague, but it does contrast significantly with Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin's March 2014 claim that the company was "beseiged" with interest from developers.
“The difference today for FC Modular is that we are not an indoor construction company; we are [instead] an assembly plant with the same quality controls and standards for excellence as any other factory,” Hayes told the magazine.
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The Real Deal article indeed backs up that conclusion, quoting (in paraphrase) Joseph Maraia of Lend Lease as saying said prefab bathrooms could save 10 percent, but "the difficulty in transporting large prefabricated materials throughout the city will likely impede the proliferation of full-building modular construction. "
|From the Opportunity Brief|