After four years of delayed construction, financial missteps, and lawsuits, Forest City Ratner and Greenland U.S.A. are finally welcoming tenants into 461 Dean Street, currently the tallest high-rise in the world constructed with modular units. The 32-story tower on the edge of Prospect Heights and Park Slope offers sweeping views of brownstone Brooklyn, but its lengthy construction saga highlights the issues developers face when they build with modular construction in New York City.
The 363-unit building sits at the corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, next to Barclays Center and at the western edge of Forest City Ratner’s 22-acre Pacific Park megaproject. SHoP Architects, who also designed the arena, are responsible for the look of 461 Dean.
Forest City originally teamed up with construction giant Skanska to build the Dean Street tower. Skanska brought on dozens of skilled workers to assemble modular apartments in a factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which I toured three years ago. But in 2014, construction had slowed to a crawl, and the building had only risen a few stories. The companies’ partnership ultimately dissolved in a flurry of dueling lawsuits. FCRC charged that Skanska’s poor construction management caused delays and massive cost over-runs. Then the contractor filed a counter-suit, claiming that Forest City failed to deal with design flaws that caused considerable slow-downs in production of the modular units. The legal battle is ongoing. And last month, Forest City sold the mod factory to Full Stack Modular.
SHoP principal Chris Sharples and Forest City Ratner vice president Adam Greene took journalists on a tour of the development Tuesday afternoon. We saw a large lounge with a kitchen, but not the rest of the amenities, which include a fitness center, yoga and dance studio, game room, and children’s playroom.
The first of three model units on the tour was a 690-square-foot one-bedroom on the 20th floor, which had a slightly cramped layout but offered breathtaking views of Flatbush Avenue and Prospect Heights. A broker from Douglas Elliman, which is handling the building’s leasing, said the apartment would rent for about $3,700.
Next up was a 700-square-foot triangular studio that curved around the edge of the building. The two walls of windows looked down Flatbush Avenue and gave us a unique view of the green roof covering the top of Barclays Center. The unusual apartment is expected to rent for at least $3,200.
Finally, there was a little 450-square-foot studio, which is expected to go for $2,500.
Half the apartments in the tower rented for below-market rates through a city-run lottery. By the time the lottery closed this summer, 84,000 people had applied for the 181 affordable units.
Thirty percent of those units went to “middle-income” families, or folks who earn between 80 and 120 percent of the Area Median Income. For a family of three, that means a household earning between $78,336 and $108,720 annually. The remaining 20 percent of affordable units went to households earning 50 percent of the Area Median Income or less, which is roughly $40,800 for a family of three. Rents for affordable studios ranged from $559 to $1,996, for one-bedrooms from $600 to $2,504, and for two-bedrooms from $727 to $3,012.
Market-rate rents in the tower start at $2,450 for studios, $3,125 for one-bedrooms, and $4,750 for two-bedrooms.