Tuesday, January 30, 2018

New Modular Factory Proposed for NY's Finger Lake Region

The Lake Tunnel Solar Village proposed for an area just outside of downtown Geneva, NY has been generating lots of buzz since it was announced in 2016.
The developer’s announcement at Thursday’s Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce dinner is sure to generate even more. SmallGrid CEO Ryan Wallace announced that the Geneva-based company will be constructing a modular home factory in the city as part of an effort to build solar-powered communities in the Northeast and beyond. The project will create 20 “good-paying jobs” over the next 18 months, Wallace told Geneva Chamber members at Club 86 Thursday night. The SmallGrid leader said the company will hire more people as it builds additional solar-housing developments. “Our target markets are in New York initially, but we won’t announce those until the Lake Tunnel Solar Village is well underway,” said Wallace on Friday. He said at the dinner that “we are already getting requests from other communities … for more solar villages.” If all goes well, said Wallace, he envisions more than 200 jobs created over 10 years. Such job growth would cut into Geneva’s 24 percent poverty rate by 4 percent, Wallace claimed. He said SmallGrid will be breaking ground in June on its $8.5 million project to be built on vacant land next to the tunnel that runs under Routes 5&20 that connects downtown and the lakefront.
The housing development will be heated and powered by solar energy. That energy will be harnessed into the company’s innovative LifeWall units, which provide heating, cooling and energy storage. They will be manufactured at the home-building site, Wallace said. Instead of hiring a contractor to build the modular units, SmallGrid decided that it would construct its own, said Wallace. And it’s getting some help with the process. Wallace, who has been involved in the solar energy industry for years, said his company is partnering on the modular home-building project with EPS Buildings, which manufactures structural insulated panels in Clyde. Wallace said he is working with the city to determine a final site for manufacturing. A potential piece of land where the factory would be built is in an industrial section of the city on Forge Avenue near Guardian Glass. City Comptroller Adam Blowers, who is also serving as part of the interim city management team, said the city will provide all the assistance it can for the project. “Last night’s announcement from SmallGrid was very exciting,” said Blowers on Friday. “SmallGrid is a great example of the amazing entrepreneurial efforts within our vibrant city, using creative ideas and technological advancements to grow their business and create jobs for our community. Ryan has a think-, act- and work-local spirit that is very encouraging. We look forward to working with SmallGrid on this project.” Wallace said building the modular solar-powered homes in a controlled environment will provide “incredible efficiency” in the construction process. For example, said Wallace, a task that takes three hours on a job site can be done in an hour or less in a factory — and with better quality. Wallace wants his employees to have liveable wages as well as a stake in the city where he lives. “Our employees should be able to afford the homes they are building,” he said. “We want to be part of the amazing revitalization of Geneva, and more manufacturing jobs will help that trend continue.” Lake Tunnel Solar Village features three price points for the townhouses. They start at $136,000 for an 823-square-foot unit with two bedrooms. The highest-priced modular townhouse starts at $195,000 for a 1,239 unit. Wallace said the “market demand is very strong for new, low-maintenance homes under 1,500 square feet.” Those who buy them will be toasty as well, said Wallace, noting they will have radiant floor heat, meaning they will feel “like a warm foot massage.” “That radiant heat is free,” Wallace pointed out. “You can crank up the heat and never pay a heating bill.” Besides radiant floor heat, said Wallace, the modular homes will feature quartz counter tops and solid wood cabinets. And when the snow comes, they’re “built to withstand snow loads nearly double normal (housing) code requirements,” he said. Wallace said SmallGrid will begin hiring employees this summer, and that hiring will continue during the construction of the modular home manufacturing site. Article from the Finger Lake Times

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