Greenland must “see it to believe it” with Tower B2

MaryAnne Gilmartin says Forest City’s Chinese partner still needs convincing

TRD New York /
June 16, 2015 04:40 PM

MaryAnne Gilmartin, president and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, has been an unflagging cheerleader of modular construction through the developer’s travails with Tower B2 — the Pacific Park building that, at 32 stories, is slated to be the world’s tallest modular structure.

But Forest City’s Chinese partner, Greenland USA, “needs to see it to believe it,” Gilmartin said Tuesday.

In response to an audience member’s question at TerraCRG’s Only Brooklyn real estate summit, Gilmartin said that it is still undetermined whether modular construction will be used for any additional Pacific Park buildings.

“It’s been hard. It’s not gone as planned. And it’s cost a lot more money,” she said. “This model is still yet to be proven, but I am a deep believer.”

Gilmartin maintained that the seven-month delay in construction that Tower B2 suffered was simply due to a dispute between Forest City and its former partner, Skanska USA, and that modular construction is blameless. Forest City and Skanska traded suits last fall, with each blaming the other side for cost overruns and delays.

“There is no fatal flaw. It’s really about the hiccup we had with our partner,” she said.

Tower B2, at 461 Dean Street, will contain 363 apartments, 50 percent of which will be affordable. Gilmartin said the units should be delivered by late 2016.

“To prove out the model, we need B2 to open up. We need people to walk through and say, ‘This is beautiful, it looks just as good as the building down the street,’” she said. “If that happens, then I would say Greenland would be enthusiastic.”

Gilmartin also touted the efficiencies that modular could ideally afford, and cited it as a potentially major boon to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal to build 80,000 units of affordable housing by 2020.

Of reports from earlier this year claiming that Tower B2’s modules were misaligned, Gilmartin said that corrective work was done and that the issues were nothing more than what you would normally see on any construction project.

The developer is breaking ground this week on Tower B3 at 38 Sixth Avenue, which will be 100 percent affordable.

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