Thursday, June 15, 2017

Google Buying 300 Modules from CA startup Factory

When Marriot and Google buy into modular construction, you know others will follow.

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This project is funded by Google Alphabet. The last I heard of Michelle Kaufmann, the Architect that brought us the Glidehouse, was that she was part of Google Alphabet, the tech side of Google that is working on urban housing among other things. Not sure if she is still there.

Here is Forbes article:

To Ease Affordable Housing Crunch, Google Will Buy Modular Homes


Google owner Alphabet Inc. is finalizing an order to buy 300 apartment units from Factory OS, a modular-home startup.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the tech titan – in an to effort alleviate soaring home prices in Silicon Valley – is likely to use the new dwellings to serve as short-term housing for Google employees.

Modular construction, in which a complete home or an addition is built in a climate-controlled factory and then delivered to the home site, has been around for decades. In recent years, the technology has been deployed to help alleviate housing shortages across the U.S., including Detroit, New York and Miami.

Silicon Valley has been grappling with a severe housing shortage for years and tech companies are increasingly becoming more active in trying to help solve that problem. Late last year Facebook announced that it will spend about $20 million in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, Calif., two cities that surround its campus, to create a fund to build new housing.

But easing the chronic affordable housing crunch  is an uphill battle. Home prices in tech hubs such as San Jose, Palo Alto and Cupertino rank among the priciest in the country and jumped to record levels again in April.

Santa Clara, Alameda and San Mateo counties all posted all-time median price highs in April, CoreLogic reported.  The price for the typical previously owned home was $1,050,500 in Santa Clara County, which is steadily holding above the $1 million level; $805,000 in Alameda County; $590,000 in Contra Costa County; and $1.4 million in San Mateo County.

CLICK HERE to read the entire Forbes article

Here is a 2015 article from the SF Chronicle about the people behind Factory OG, the modular factory that will be supplying the modular apartments for Google.


Developer sees new possibilities in assembly-line housing

For decades, San Francisco developer Rick Holliday and Holliday Development, like a lot of urban developers, has been fascinated with the possibility of modular construction, the idea that housing units could be produced more efficiently on an assembly line, like an automobile. But each time he came close to giving it a shot, he would see problems. Around the country, modular projects didn’t turn out well — units were flawed, transportation was difficult, contractors were skeptical. What resulted was often more expensive and of poorer quality than if the structure had been built on site.

A 136-unit rental housing project takes place in the Bayview in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, September 28, 2015.  The developer, Rick Holliday, says he is building twice as fast and saving 25 percent on costs.

“The manufacturers would tell you how wonderful it is, and the developers would always say, ‘It didn’t really work out. I’m not doing a second one,’” Holliday said. “It was the mobile-home industry coming to housing, trying to do more sophisticated infill development, and it wasn’t connecting.”

In wasn’t until 2013 when Patrick Kennedy of Panoramic Interests did a 23-unit building in South of Market, at 28 Harriet St., that Holliday decided to take a closer look. He contacted Zeta Communities in Sacramento, which built the modules for Kennedy’s project, and worked with Sternberg Benjamin Architects and Cannon Constructors on a design in which 314 boxes are pieced together in nine different floor plans. It took two years to come up with a plan.

Soon Pace was a convert as well.

“Two years ago, I was a pessimist. Now I am a poster child,” said Pace. “We can do this and do it in a big way that will benefit everybody in the community.”

More projects planned

Holliday estimates that the project will cost 20 percent less and be built 40 percent faster than conventional construction. One-bedrooms will rent in the $2,000 range, two-bedrooms in the $3,000 range. The project will cost $225,000 per unit, compared with $275,000 using conventional building techniques, Holliday said.

Holliday and Pace don’t plan on stopping there. They have two sites in West Oakland. In addition, Bridge Housing, the affordable housing developer that Holliday founded, is doing a modular project at the San Leandro BART Station.

“We’re doing another one. It’s already planned,” Holliday said. “And I have another one behind that. We are going to demonstrate replicability. I want to make a leap of progress, and this represents it. It’s in San Francisco. It’s in the Bayview. It’s workforce housing. We’ve done it. We’ve learned a lot.”

Seeking factory in S.F.

Holliday says that he could save even more money if he didn’t have to bring the modules in by truck from Sacramento. Lee is working with the Port of San Francisco to find a site where a modular factory could be built. In his conversation with Lee, Holliday estimated that a manufacturing facility large enough to crank out 1,500 to 2,000 units a year could be built for $10 million in eight to 12 months.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article

An interesting side note, I found a Singapore modular home manufacturer called Factory OG that has interests in CA.

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Could Holliday Development actually be working with this Chinese company? If you know something about this, please share.

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