Getting another chance to prove its cutting edge approach after negative revelations in the summer, the Silicon Valley-based high-tech prefab builder Katerra has been selected to build a 97-unit apartment block in Hayward, California, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Founded in 2015 by a group of real estate and technology chiefs, Katerra aims to disrupt the construction industry by integrating design, component manufacturing, and site assembly together under its digital platform, and claims to have $3.7bn worth of building orders so far.
Investors have been keen. The company has raised $1.2bn in venture capital funding so far, according to Crunchbase.
However, in an investigation in August by technology news site, The Information, more than a dozen current and former employees described problems, including production issues and high executive turnover.
Katerra’s co-founder and executive chairman Michael Marks dismissed the report in an emailed response to the news site, saying: "We’re doing great in all respects, growing revenue, increasing margins, breathtaking backlog, rapidly falling losses."
Reporting the Hayward contract win, newspaper San Francisco Business Times said Katerra has 35 construction projects underway but so far has mostly completed renovations. On its website, the company says it has completed two ground-up developments in California.
In Hayward, Katerra will build a 97-unit apartment block, to be called [emailÂ protected], near the South Hayward BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station, using building components made in Katerra’s factory in Tracy.
The developer is a partnership between Legacy Partners and New York-listed financial services company American International Group (AIG), who bought the 1.78-acre site, a former car dealership, for $3.2m, reports Business Times.Â
They hope to complete the project by April 2020.
Image: Artist’s render of the apartment block, [emailÂ protected] (Legacy Partners)