The second phase of construction on the first and only Atlantic Yards tower now being built is like a game of Jenga in reverse.
Workers began lowering apartment module boxes by crane onto the steel frame of the B2 apartment building at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street on Tuesday and the finished product will be a stack of crash pads arranged like a bunch of the game’s rectangular pieces — only instead of winning when the next guy topples it, mega-developer Forest City Ratner’s payoff comes when the structure is one solid box fort ready to rent. Company reps say the day-and-night flatbed semi trucks turning onto one-lane Dean Street will be less disruptive for neighbors and car commuters than conventional high-rise construction.
“The thing about the modular solution here is it limits the amount of deliveries, even the amount of workers, who are on the site,” said Rob Sanna, head of construction for Forest City Ratner. “In terms of impact on community, it is significantly less because you don’t have the many, many truck trips.”
Only a few stories of the structure’s metal skeleton have been assembled, but it is slated to rise to 32 stories as the boxes, 930 in all, are pegged in to form 363 apartments, half of them renting for below-market-rate.
One neighborhood activist who came out to watch the first day of unloading bemoaned the low number of jobs created by the project.
“Unfortunately, for people in this economy, [the module construction] is not great for labor,” said Rich Sullivan, a member of the anti-Atlantic Yards group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and resident of nearby Saint Marks Avenue. “It cuts down on the amount of people who will be working on the project.”
The workers fabricating the apartment-in-a-box units in a Navy Yard factory are all union, but so far there are only 72 of them despite an earlier Forest City pledge to employ 125, according to the magazine Fast Company.
The modular tower is one of three planned around the Barclays Center and one of 16 total, though the company has announced no start date for construction on any others and is trying to sell a four-fifths stake in the project to a Chinese-government-owned development company.