On March 16, 2011, The New York Times ran an article entitled “Prefabricated Tower May Rise at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards”. The gist of the story was that a major real estate developer had agreed to build apartments in an old shipyard, and had gained support for his bid from local trade unions based on his promise of thousands of union construction jobs.
Um, never mind.
Bruce C. Ratner is apparently now pursuing an alternative construction strategy using pre-fabricated building modules. His inspiration, it is said, was the video below.
Is this necessarily a bad thing? Figuring out how to build more buildings housing more people (or businesses) at lower costs that enable (theoretically, at least) lower sale prices and rents? No, not automatically, but one might quibble over the value of the promises one makes to ones allies in order to garner their support.
The plans for a modular construction method will still mean thousands of construction jobs; but not quite so many, and not quite as highly paid.
In general, I feel strongly that learning to construct buildings that are at least comparable in safety, durability and features at lower cost is good for everyone. I also feel that when a deal is struck under certain conditions and with certain understandings, that deal should be adhered to in the absence of mutual agreement to do otherwise.
What’s the right thing here? I don’t know enough to say. It does appear from this NY Times article, however, that it’s another example of big money acting like agreements — verbal or otherwise — are for the little people: Strictly a one-way street.
I’d like to hear what you think.