Ground Breaks on Washington, DC’s 1st Modular Apartments

The boutique community is being developed by Community Three Development and Rooney Properties.
Rendering of Modo. Image courtesy of Community Three Development and Rooney Properties

A partnership between Community Three Development and family office investor Rooney Properties has broken ground on Washington, D.C.’s first-ever modular apartment building.

The 17-unit community, dubbed Modo, was financed by EagleBank and is rising in the Petworth neighborhood, just across the street from the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro Station, about 3 miles north of downtown. All units at the four-story building will have three bedrooms and will feature built-in custom closets, shelving and desks to support residents working from home.


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Modo is being constructed using modules from Philadelphia-based modular contractor VBC Construction, a firm that worked partnered with modular fabricator Simplex Homes on the project. The modular team worked with Modo’s architect, Eric Colbert & Associates, on the building.

Community Three President Grant Epstein said in prepared remarks that Modo is being designed to attract Generation Z twenty-somethings that are drawn to environmentally conscious housing design and prefer having roommates to living alone.

Each module is constructed off-site and is 80 percent finished once it arrives at the building site. The eco-friendly design features high-efficiency appliances and HVAC systems, LED lighting, reclaimed wood flooring and subway tile. The community will have an automated entry system that allows residents to access the building and their individual apartments with a smartphone app.

Resident amenities at Modo will include a green roof deck with seating and grilling areas. The community will include 3,000 square feet of street-level retail that can provide more than 100 outdoor restaurant seats.

Real estate brokerage firm Urban Pace will begin pre-leasing apartments at Modo starting in March 2021.

Modular Gets Popular

Modular construction only accounts for about 5 percent of all commercial construction, but multifamily is the fastest-growing segment within the industry, according to research by the Modular Building Institute. However, industry experts are split on whether the building method will eventually take off.

Last year, New York City-based firm Thorobird Cos., in a partnership with Bangladeshi American Community Development & Youth Services, was awarded a $70 million contract by the City of New York to develop a 167-unit affordable community in Brooklyn using modular design. The project marked the first RFP issued and awarded by the City of New York for modular construction.