A MODULAR UNIT IS RAISED by a crane on March 2 to be lowered into place as part of the “Bowdoin Street Rowhouse,” an eight-unit affordable-housing development that’s being developed by the nonprofit One Neighborhood Builders at the 101 Bowdoin St. site of a deadly fire that occurred in 2018. / PHOTO COURTESY STEPHEN IDE OF ONE NEIGHBORHOOD BUILDERS

By Marc Larocque
Providence Business News

PROVIDENCE – They looked like children’s building blocks being stacked neatly together, as the prefabricated modular homes that make up the “Bowdoin Street Rowhouse” apartment complex in Providence were hoisted up and assembled recently by a crane operator.

“It’s like an Erector or Lego set,” said Jennifer Hawkins, president and executive director of One Neighborhood Builders. “The cranes plopped one on top of each other within a week.”

Those rectangular blocks make up a $2.2 million affordable housing project that’s being undertaken by the nonprofit One Neighborhood Builders, which expects construction at the 110 Bowdoin St. site to be completed by the end of May. The project, which is being completed by the South Kingstown-based general contractor Coastal Modular Homes, includes eight residences, with six two-bedroom apartments and two one-bedroom apartments.

The Bowdoin Street Rowhouse was the first modular home project for One Neighborhood Builders, which sought to undertake this kind of development due to the cost efficiencies that it provides, Hawkins said. The per unit development cost $275,000, while a traditional stick-built project would have cost $60,000 to $70,000 more per unit, Hawkins said.

The modular homes were shipped in on trucks from Liverpool, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, where they were manufactured by Champion Modular Homes, Hawkins said. The homes already include rough plumbing, with light fixtures, toilets and even vanity mirrors already built in, Hawkins said. Pre-built roof trusses pop up once the second-story boxes are put in place, she said, before the general contractor comes in and finishes the project with electrical work, plumbing and finer construction detailing.