Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Forest City Moves Ahead With Modular Tower

Forest City Ratner, developer of the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, has announced that the mixed-use complex’s first residential building—a 32-story, 350-unit, metal-and-glass modular tower — will break ground on December 18. The developer has estimated that the modular structure, which will have a series of setbacks and cantilevers, will cost about 20 percent less than a nearly identical conventionally constructed tower.

Forest City is partnering with construction giant, Skanska USA, to create FC + Skanska Modular. The new company will rely on union labor to assemble the components in a warehouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a few miles from Atlantic Yards.

The announcement follows protracted negotiations with local unions, who now say that the project will both preserve and create jobs. “We see the potential to have his approach improve our competiveness elsewhere in the local market and expand into an export industry,” said Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.

FCR will break ground on the borough's tallest apartment complex, a 322-foot-tall building at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, on December 18. The building is the first of 15 similar modular buildings to be constructed at the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards site.

Atlantic Yards Renters Headed Back to the Old Neighborhood

For a handful of Prospect Heights residents, moving into the first Atlantic Yards apartment building will be a homecoming of sorts. Seven years ago, 17 renters living in the footprint of the development site accepted a unique deal from Forest City Ratner.

In return for moving, the tenants got apartments nearby at the same rent they were paying - covered by Forest City. Tenants were also promised they would be moved into the new 32-story complex called named B2 when it is completed in the summer of 2014.

Many worried that Forest City Ratner might renege on the contract, but the company is sticking to their word, according to tenants who took the relocation offer.

An artist who initially fought being tossed from his high-ceiling loft at 475 Dean Street in 2005, eventually accepted the relocation deal and moved to another loft nearby - and hasn't worried about rent ever since. Others took the buyouts and left town.

During the contentious takeover of the 22-acre site, 209 renters living in the area were offered the relocation agreement or a cash payment averaging $85,000. Tenants are now looking forward to moving into the pre-fabricated apartment building's 180 apartments set aside for affordable housing, in 2014. Half of the first building's 363 apartments will be subsidized with city affordable housing bonds.