Courtesy of Containers on Grand

April 15, 2015

Kaci Demarest

Cargo containers join multifamily inventory

Some Phoenicians are seeking out trendy living spaces in the burgeoning downtown Phoenix area, and soon the available product will include a cluster of shipping containers.

The concept, Containers on Grand, was originally intended to provide local artists with a space to store and showcase their artwork on First Fridays, but it has evolved into housing. Collaborators Karl Obergh, Brian Stark and Kathleen Santin have been working on Containers on Grand together for about a year.

Obergh is president and owner of Ritoch-Powell, a company that deals with shipping containers. Obergh and a partner bought the half-acre property, on Grand and 12th avenues with the intent to place storage containers there for artists to use. It wasn’t until he met Santin that the idea for Containers on Grand came to be known as it is. Stark and his company, Stark James, were later brought in to enhance the creativity of designing the building structure.

Since the advertisement regarding renting information was released, Containers on Grand has received more than 100 inquiries from potential tenants, as of the start of February.

“It took off a lot more than we were expecting with the amount of interest that we we’ve seen and the amount of people that are interested in renting. It’s been amazing,” Stark said.

The collaborators initially projected that artists would be the ones interested in renting the spaces. Instead, all the inquiries are from people who are business professionals, accounting executives, lawyers’ associates and other professions along these lines.

The units are comprised of two cargo containers, measuring at 740 square feet. They each stand 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 9.5 feet tall and weigh about 9.5 tons, which is why the shipping containers are cut and modified off-site before they are brought back to the site.

“Once they’re in place, there’s not a lot of difference in building inside of them than there is in conventional construction,” Stark said.

The layout is fairly simple. The front of the unit has a living area. Toward the center are kitchen and storage nooks. The bathroom is off of the kitchen. The bedroom is at the back of the unit.

Since the space is limited, the majority of the utilities are run out of a masonry core that is shared between two parallel units. The air-conditioning is inside and only blows two ways.

“The containers are pretty much the [adaptive reuse] story because it is so much of the project. It’s your enclosure, exterior, skin, and it’s your structure.” Stark said.

The developers’ plan is to reuse and recycle as much as they can in the process, including utilizing the 1.5-inch plywood floor by sealing and reusing it.

As of now, Containers on Grand is the only one of its kind in Phoenix, but there is a possibility for other locations in the future.

“We all have everything into this project, so if this project is successful, there’s a possibility that we can do this with other locations,” Obergh said.

The units are expected to be ready to rent in March.