The world's future tallest modular building has produced another nasty exchange in what was already an angry public dispute.
Developer Forest City Ratner Cos. said Sept. 5th that Skanska blocked Forest City from entering the Brooklyn factory in which the two companies, as partners, are fabricating the modular units for the planned 32-story B2 BKLYN, which would be the tallest modular tower in the world.
In a new lawsuit filed in state court in Manhattan, Forest City's modular subsidiary accused Skanska and Skanska Executive Richard A. Kennedy of breaching their contract with Forest City by issuing a furlough and Warn Act notices to the factory's 150 employees and then laying them off without approval of the factory joint venture's board.
Stopping operations and laying off "the specially trained union laborers" is "irreparably harming" the joint venture company, Forest City claims.
Skanska USA Building is also Forest City's guaranteed-price construction manager for the project under a $117-million contract.
Forest City Ratner is doing everything possible to reopen the factory, says MaryAnne Gilmartin, chief executive, in a statement.
The tower, part of the $4.9-billion Pacific Park Brooklyn development, originally called Atlantic Yards, was heralded by Forest City executives as one that could "crack the code" in the construction of modular buildings.
Late last month Skanska USA, as part of its conflict with Forest City about the projects delays and cost overruns, shut down the factory.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, in a joint statement with two City Council members, called the dispute unacceptable because it "has left 150 workers unemployed" and urged both sides to resolve their differences.
A spokeswoman for Skanska USA Building said the company couldn't comment on the lawsuit because it hadn't seen it yet.
In its lawsuit against Forest City, Skanska claims that the developer touted its state-of-the-art capabilities in modular construction, including an opportunity brief (see image above) that made claim to "breakthroughs" and "innovations," but that the design for the project by Forest City and its designers, Ove Arup & Partners and ShoP Architects, was flawed.
Skanska also notes in its claim that, in Skanska's view, Forest City backed away from its initial representations about the use of modular at the Atlantic Yards development. The first sign was an announcement "to the media, but not Skanska," in June "that the "built in pipeline" of additional future work at the Atlantic Yards development no longer existed. The next structure "would be built conventionally, not modularly," Skanska says Forest City indicated.
Later statements by Forest City characterized the modular construction as awaiting validation and an ongoing experiment, Skanska said.
Forest City, in its claim against Skanska, accuses the company of lacking the expertise and diligence needed to complete the project on time and on budget.
The dispute has been simmering for months. Work stopped Aug. 27.
Then on Sept. 2 just minutes apart each side filed lawsuits in New York State Supreme Court.
On Sept. 4th Forest City offered to take over the factory.
The planned 322-st-tall tower, now at 10 stories, is the first residential building to come out of the ground at the 22-acre complex, which includes the completed Barclays Center arena.