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Green shipping container housing may come to Detroit

10.14.08 | technician | In real estate, woodbridge, wayne state, green

From Freep.com: Last week Leslie Horn, president of the Power of Green Housing in Detroit pitched a plan to develop a 17-unit condominium project near Woodbridge. City Councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins stood against it.

The project would stack about 93 empty containers, cut in windows and doors, install plumbing, stairways and heating, and add amenities such as balconies and landscaped patios. The units would be at West Warren and Rosa Parks.
If it wins city approval, the 17-unit condominium project could break ground this fall and open near Wayne State University in 2009. Steven Flum, a Detroit-based architect who designed the project, said it solves several problems at once, including the need to build environmentally sensitive buildings cheaply.
What Collins called ugly, Horn called cutting-edge. She said she already has five potential buyers.

As they said on their blog: “In the end even though we had challenges we have been invited to return next Wednesday after meeting with CPC (City’s Planning Commission) who had concerns about the “aesthetics” of our condo project– so we immediately met with CPC and fully believe we have come up with great solutions that will make everybody happy without losing the integrity of our “urban look” and affordability.”

Perhaps the Councilwoman just isn’t aware of the recent trend in using shipping containers as building blocks. The idea is still cutting-edge while not being absolutely brand-new or untested. Go to Europe and other locations and you’ll see shipping containers being used as offices. Go to Southern California and you’ll find the first official two-story shipping container home designed by Peter Demaria. This condominium project would not only provide new multiunit, medium density housing stock that the city desperately needs it would also focus attention on Detroit’s Green movement.

Buildings constructed from shipping containers may look strange but I think anyone would find any such proposed designs more attractive than a lot of existing dilapidated housing including what currently exists on the proposed building site. And the shipping container, left over from shipping imports to this country and underused because we don’t have the products to send back out, can be bought for $900. These containers are constructed in such a way that they can be stacked (nine high, I hear). There are high-rise hotels being built from these things.
There are plans by PFNC (“Por Fin Nuestra Casa”) to build complete homes made of these for $10,000. Then there are plans by South Carolina’s SG Block to manufacture homes and factories which can be done more cheaply than building them on-site for between $150 and $400 per square foot. So think about where in this country we need cheap housing, where we might want to innovate in shipping container housing.

Check out the group’s blog for updates: Power of Green Housing in Detroit and check out weburbanist for more innovative shipping container building designs.

In other housing news, September’s residential home sales were up 57% over the same month in 2007. Sales were up in every region of Metro Detroit with the largest gain in Detroit itself.


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« Sporting News names Detroit second-best sports city
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