Beginning May 3, shrouded blocks the size of city buses began arriving at a future apartment site at 2118 Sacramento Street in the town of Vallejo, Solano County, to be hoisted by a crane and placed on a podium on the ground floor built on site, like Lego blocks.
The 70-foot-long blocks, wrapped in white vinyl for protection from the elements, represent the future of affordable housing construction and offer a partial solution to the housing shortage in the Bay Area.
They are manufactured by Factory_OS (as off-site) in building 680 on Nimitz Avenue, the former home of a WWII ship repair facility in the old Mare Island shipyard.
Factory_OS began operations in 2017 and has since built over 1,500 modules. Many will house workers or low-income housing throughout the Bay Area, including The Union, a 110-unit project near the West Oakland BART station, and the 156-unit Mayfair project, part of a transit-oriented development adjacent to the El Cerrito Del Norte BART Station.
The Sacramento Street Apartments are the first housing project in Vallejo to be built with Factory_OS modules.
The Sacramento Street project will provide 75 long-term affordable housing units with supportive health and social services for chronically homeless adults and families.
The project is being developed in partnership with Eden Housing, a Hayward-based developer of affordable multi-family housing.
The general contractor is James E. Roberts-Obayashi Corp., headquartered in Danville; the building’s designer is David Baker Architects, with offices in San Francisco, Oakland and Birmingham, Alabama; and Fletcher Studio in San Francisco.
The project will consist of 51 studios, 18 one-bedroom apartments and 5 two-bedroom apartments on three levels above the ground floor. The complex is made up of two buildings, connected by an air bridge over a landscaped plaza. The buildings will also house a property management unit, support services offices and a community meeting room. Outdoor facilities for apartment residents will include a community garden, orchard, playground, dog run and patio areas.
Factory_OS did not respond to press inquiries regarding the unit cost and total cost of the Sacramento Street Apartments project.
The company is the shared vision of company co-founders Rick Holliday, CEO, and Larry Pace, COO. Both are seasoned developers and innovators of multi-family housing. Holliday helped form Eden Housing in 1978 and later partnered with Don Terner to create San Francisco-based BRIDGE Housing.
Both companies continue to build and operate affordable housing projects throughout California and are among the nation’s most successful nonprofit housing developers. Pace is the founder and president of Cannon Constructors North, a leader in manufactured home construction techniques.
A McKinsey & Company report published in June 2019 found that offsite modular construction can produce finished homes, ready for occupancy, 40% to 50% faster (because onsite labor and offsite fabrication of modules can be done at the same time) and at 20% less cost than conventional on-site construction.
The McKinsey report concluded that modular construction results in greater cost and schedule certainty, less disruption to neighborhoods surrounding the project site, reduced material waste, and connections and finishes of higher quality construction, which improves energy and seismic performance.
A 2021 case study published by UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation found that the unit cost of 145 affordable housing units at 833 Bryant St. in San Francisco (also fabricated offsite by Factory_OS) was $382,917 , or 25% less per unit than similar projects in San Francisco.
The project was also completed 30% faster than the other projects studied.