Looking around the many condominium developments of Washington, DC, it’s hard not to see the sheer innovation and imagination it takes to bring some of these projects to life. Many include art installations and world-class amenities such as pools and fitness centers to bring in home buyers. With so many fantastical elements included in today’s condos, it’s hard to imagine that one of the most visionary of these developments doesn’t rely on a fancy pool or dog-washing station to appeal to home buyers, but rather a renewed sense of sustainability.
In September 2014, Washington, DC got its first dose of shipping container homes in Brookland. Fashioned completely out of recycled materials, these homes represented the complete opposite of the luxury amenities used in other condo developments. Serving as the barebones structure of these units are the discarded 8-by-40-foot containers used to haul large quantities of products overseas.
The first set of shipping container homes served as an economically intelligent way to create sustainable apartment living in Washington, DC. However, now a developer plans to take the notion a step further with the city’s first condo development made out of shipping containers.
Slated for the Rosedale neighborhood, three developers have proposed plans to the ANC 6C Economic Development and Zoning Committee to build units on the 1600 block of Kramer Street. Each of the proposals presented by Mi Casa, Inc., Manna, Inc., and Neighborhood Development Co., call for about 26 condos at all levels of the neighborhood’s economic spectrum to be built completely out of shipping containers.
With the popularity and success of the first group of container homes in Brookland, the recent proposal for Rosedale was met with a considerable amount of positivity. One concern raised by an area home owner was for the preservation of the historic context of the neighborhood. Travis Price, whose architecture firm has been working with Neighborhood Development Co., assured residents that this is one moment in the area’s developing history that residents should want to be a part of.
“History is defined by its changing moments and in many ways our culture has shifted,” said Price as reported by District Source, a local online news source.
I've always been fascinated with the many uses of shipping containers after one of my consulting gigs before I got into real estate. When I worked for Perot Systems, I worked for a year in San Francisco with Triton Container, one of the world's largest lessors of containers. I got a real inside look at the industry from the manufacture of containers, the many uses, the world trade market and the after market for containers. The British army had, in my opinion, one of the best uses for them when they used them for portable pubs, but that's a story for another day.
Why are shipping containers taking off as homes?
For many traditional home owners, the thought of living in a box might seem rather unconventional. But for many looking for a more affordable and more conscientious living situation, shipping containers have proven to be an ideal building material.
Originally conceived as a way to solve mass housing with a plug and play mentality, inexpensive sea container homes have since been fashioned into some very creative and expensive dwellings all around the world.
For local developers such as Price however, the radical modifications are unnecessary in providing a hungry home-buying population with an affordable and comfortable option for owning a home.
“We’re actually using those existing units, and we’re not violating them dramatically,” Price said to The Washington Post. “That makes the difference. You cut and paste. We could be a lot more theatrical, but then you pay.”
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