The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority is creating dozens of deeply affordable homes in the city with a big assist from an unlikely source — a manufacturing plant about 65 miles straight south of the city.
Rise Modular, which has a plant in Owatonna, is working with the MPHA, Frerichs Construction, DJR Architecture and others to put up 84 affordable housing units within four- and six-unit structures on 16 Minneapolis locations.
Construction is just beginning on the effort, known as the Family Housing Expansion Project. At the heart of the construction process is a series of fully equipped modules, which are built in a climate-controlled setting at Rise’s 150,000-square-foot plant in Owatonna.
Dean Dovolis, CEO and founder of DJR Architecture in Minneapolis, said the units are made in Owatonna and shipped to Minneapolis, where the site work takes place and the modules are knitted together.
Dovolis said it’s a major breakthrough to have a public agency use modular construction on an affordable housing project of this size and scope.
“It’s a big, big deal,” he said.
Christian Lawrence, founder and CEO of Rise Modular, said in an interview Monday that, to the best of his knowledge, the MPHA project is the first scattered site, modular project of its kind — and a model that could be replicated across the country.
“We have such a vast need for affordable housing locally, regionally and nationally,” Lawrence said. “This is a new and innovative and unique approach to help tackle it.”
Project backers say the modular process lends itself to quicker construction and lower costs compared to traditional stick-built methods. In this case, the MPHA expects to reduce costs by 13% to 21% without compromising quality or aesthetics.