The Real Deal New York

Modular building pioneer Capsys acquired by rival Whitley

Brooklyn-based firm to shutter factory in Navy Yard

February 08, 2016 06:05PM
By Konrad Putzier

From left: Nicholas Lembo, a rendering of 335 EAst 27th Street (credit: nArchitects) and Simon Dragan

From left: Nicholas Lembo, a rendering of 335 East 27th Street (credit: nArchitects) and Simon Dragan

Modular manufacturer Capsys may be shutting down its Brooklyn factory, but the company’s name will live on. Pennsylvania-based modular firm Whitley Manufacturing is buying Capsys and will keep using the brand, the two companies announced Monday.

Whitley, which specializes in low-rise commercial buildings, plans to use Capsys’ manufacturing techniques to build multi-story modular buildings for the New York City market at its factory in Leola, Pennsylvania. 

“Capsys is synonymous with modular construction in New York City, and its system will let us build taller—in a place where most of the space is vertical, that’s a really important feature,” said Simon Dragan, Whitley’s president.

Whitley is buying the “Capsys name, its proprietary building system, and other related intellectual property,” according to the announcement. Drew Welborn, a vice president at Whitley, told The Real Deal that the firm will keep the Capsys brand name, but it’s not clear yet whether Capsys’ 40-plus employees (as of last October) will get to keep their jobs.

TRD first reported in October that Capsys will shutter after its hunt for a new manufacturing space in New York City ended fruitless.

Capsys was founded in 1996 and has produced modules for developments such as the micro-apartment building 335 East 27th Street in Manhattan and the townhouse complex Atlantic Center in Fort Greene. It was the only modular manufacturer in New York City for almost a decade, and had been hunting for a new location since 2010, when it learned its long-term lease at the Brooklyn Navy Yard would not be renewed. The company is paying around $4 per square foot under its lease – far below average rates at the Yard.

Today, Forest City Ratner’s modular factory is Capsys’ neighbor at the Navy Yard.

“It was a hard decision to close the factory,” Capsys’ founder Nicholas Lembo said in a statement Monday, “but it was the right one.  In contrast, though, it was an easy choice to pass the torch to Whitley, who I know will produce Capsys units that our team would be proud of, and that will continue to demonstrate a smart alternative to traditional construction in New York City.”

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