As Forest City’s modular work on its B2 building nears the finish line at Pacific Park, the company is looking to the future of its ambitious modular construction division. And things aren’t looking so bright.
B2 is the long-delayed affordable rental tower at 461 Dean Street, nestled up against Barclays Center. When still in the planning phase, the building’s modular construction was supposed to speed up construction, save costs, and be a spark igniting similar modular techniques at other sites — potentially even throughout Brooklyn and the world.
Instead, the new construction method caused technical difficulties, severe leaks, delays and, eventually, lawsuits between Forest City and its construction partner at the time, Swedish company Skanska. Forest City’s new partner, Greenland USA, has opted to use conventional construction techniques for the rest of the Pacific Park development.
After construction of B2’s modules wraps up in February, Forest City’s modular division — FC Modular — doesn’t have anything else to do. Additional construction contracts have failed to appear. This week, the company warned its workers that layoffs of 220 employees could begin if a new contract isn’t signed within the next 90 days, reported The Real Deal.
FC Modular was formed after a multiyear (and multi-lawsuit) kerfuffle between Forest City and Skanska, which was initially B2’s construction manager and a part owner of the Navy Yard–based modular factory supplying the building’s components.
But after years of construction delays, mutual finger-pointing and a halt on construction, Forest City bought Skanska out of its stake in the factory and got the modules back in motion at B2 in February.
Today, things are looking pretty good at the building at 461 Dean Street, which is supposed to be completed in fall of 2016.
But with increased competition from overseas fabricators, and without a larger number of new buildings using modular construction, making modules in New York City might just prove too expensive all together. Another Navy Yard–based modular construction company — Capsys — announced it was folding earlier this year, Brownstoner reported, in the face of a 500 percent increase in rent after 20 years in business.
But FC Modular hasn’t thrown in the towel just yet. The company says it will offer monetary incentives to employees willing to continue working in the midst of such instability so that there will be enough employees to work on any contracts that may materialize in the next three months, reported The Real Deal.
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