Bruce Ratner did not win out with the tax man this week, but he has secured an even bigger deal with another New York City institution that will be a linchpin for his Atlantic Yards project. Today, Forest City Ratner announced it is going forward with its long-planned intentions to build a modular apartment tower as part of the 22-acre arena-anchored mega-development. The project is made possible in large part through an agreement with the city’s labor unions to allow the 32-story prefab apartment building to proceed.
Modular construction has long been a dream of architects, for its efficiency and control, and now it could be a boon for New York City developers as well, since prefab methods can save 20 to 30 percent from traditional design methods. The only issue is for construction workers. Because the projects are built in factories, even when using union labor, the jobs tend to be less skilled and thus lower paying. Many labor unions had bridled at this, especially since Mr. Ratner had made extensive promises about the well-paying jobs Atlantic Yards would provide. But today the Building and Construction Trades Council announced its support for the development, saying that the prefab builders will get their own division within the labor group.