Interest in modular construction is exploding. Modular factors into Katerra’s product offerings. Google is working modular into their Quayside master plan and has commissioned 300 modular units from upstart Factory OS, bound for employee housing in Silicon Valley. And a handful of interesting companies are moving into the space. Now the city of NY wants to go modular. The city’s Modular NYC RFI and RFEIs are looking specifically at modular solutions to help meet De Blasio’s Housing New York 2.0’s ambitions for creating and/or preserving 300k affordable housing units by 2026.
The “I” in the RFI is a brain-dump from “market participants,” explicating how modular will work in a variety of multifamily settings throughout the boroughs. The RFEI “invites expressions of interest for modular affordable housing construction on private sites within the five boroughs,” with the aim of expediting “the pre-development process” for successful RFEI respondents. These preliminary steps will be shortly followed by an RFP for a project built on city lands.
The promise of streamlining the pre-development phase is a big deal. While improving construction is a necessary element for providing affordable housing, most signs point to land-use restrictions as the driving force behind the stratospheric housing costs that affect so many cities. So if the city could help minimize the time/financial impact of those restrictions, wedding a standardized, uniform, and expedient approval process for modular, a standardized, uniform, and expedient housing product—that could be a big deal.