FORBES — We tend to treasure a gift most when it comes in a little package.
Take Blokable at Phoenix Rising, the project name given to a new, tiny Seattle-area apartment complex, for instance. Soon home to 12 households whose residents may take home less than a third of area median incomes in Auburn, Wash., it’s a single-story minimalist jewel box. Its 12 units, however, could well qualify as a case in point—a game-changing priceless trove in miniature.
How can a mere five studio apartments and seven one-bedroom units signal a flashpoint for unlocking affordability barriers in housing, especially at a moment housing instability threatens to become an era-defining, pandemic phenomenon? It goes beyond the fact that those 12 doors—a miniscule, less-than-a-rounding-error blip of the 280,000 units U.S. multifamily developers are on pace to complete in 2020—actually open to real residents at $125,000 each in one of the nation’s frothiest real estate arenas.
Never mind, too, the reality that the project’s construction and assembly, accomplished with the Blokable Building System, subtract time and materials, and add industrial-level repeatability, precision, and time-released value creation. What matters most with this profoundly microscopic event is the wholeness with which the project—beginning, middle, and end—shouts its sharp difference from the other 279,988 units ready for lease-up in the U.S. Mostly, the difference—as “the world’s first vertically-integrated modular development”—comes down to dirt, and how it may hold a critical key to unlocking housing’s wickedest challenge, affordable access to decent, healthy, safe dwellings for more people.
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