- The New York City Department of Preservation and Housing recently issued a request for proposals for a new mixed-use affordable housing project in Brooklyn requiring developers to use modular construction methods. The project is the first of its kind to fall under the department's Housing 2.0 modular construction initiative.
- Using modular construction will allow the department to take advantage of new building technology and the latest in design to reduce construction costs, get housing up faster and respond more quickly to demographic shifts, officials said in plan documents.
- The use of modular construction for affordable housing initiatives has gained support in recent years, according to The Real Deal, despite a lack of modular manufacturers in the area and logistical problems that can come with delivering and storing large modular pieces.
Getting the modular units to the site might not be the only problem developers and contractors face when trying to build such a project in New York City. The construction industry there has seen increased nonunion, or "open shop," contractors in the commercial space, but trade unions have managed to maintain a stronghold in residential. While some trade unions and their members might consider modular a threat to that position, it’s not unusual for manufacturers to employ union labor, which contributed to the 32-story Pacific Park project in Brooklyn.
Other cities around the country are making use of modular construction as well. Developers in Denver — where, according to The Denver Post, the average home price is more than $480,000 — have also turned to factory construction for much-needed, entry-level condominium stock.
Developer Panoramic Interests is also bringing modular construction to Berkeley, CA, in the form of a 22-unit apartment building. Lack of affordable living options is a problem in the college town, the developer said, particularly for “workforce housing.” Each of the units in the four-story building will be about 365 square feet and come furnished. The apartments will offer nine-foot ceilings, energy star appliances, bike storage, efficient lighting and plumbing fixtures, and four will be offered at below-market rate.