Talk about your up-cycling. Commercial developers, never ones to shy away from innovation, are building on the success of so-called “container parks.”
A container park is a development that re-purposes shipping containers into residential units or commercial uses like retail shops, restaurants, entertainment and community space. The benefits are many: sustainable and watertight, recycling of materials, ease of construction and transport, and inexpensive.
This article in Urban Land Magazine, published back in 2010, was already touting the future of these developments. The article quotes architect Joel Egan of Seattle-based HyBrid Architecture, the company that conceived an early container development in Seattle, as predicting, “Relocatable, subcode-threshold, placeholder container/panel buildings are the 21st-century future for underused lots.”
RetailWire.com recently posted an article detailing the benefits as well. “Container parks are a cheap, practical way to attract footfall and small retailers with their mixed-use target audience.”
Additionally, those looking to revitalize downtown areas are beginning to see these developments as an answer to empty, sprawling parking lots and smaller, vacant lots.
One of the more recent and exciting container developments is the Downtown Container Park in Las Vegas that opened in November 2013. The development includes shops, restaurants and bars, entertainment venues, and play areas all contained within buildings made completely of shipping containers. For the most part, tenants include independent shops and local restaurants. An area called The Treehouse provides an interactive play area for children.
Construction began on San Diego’s Quartyard Park in September 2014 and the project held a soft launch in December. The park is a 30,000 square foot city-owned site that includes restaurants, entertainment zones, and art galleries. In the future, according to this article at utsandiego.com, “Other uses are expected to include art and fashion shows, film festivals, educational events, farmer’s and craft markets and rotating food trucks. There’s also going to be a 5,000-square-foot dog run.”
Shipping containers are the focal point in the redevelopment of the Warehouse District in downtown Cleveland. The area has been challenged by vacant parking lots and empty first-floor retail spaces and rents that are seen as too high. In late 2013, cleveland.com reported that “real estate brokers say downtown retail rates range from $12 to the high $20s per square foot…”
The City feels that container development could be a cost-effective answer. But would retailers be attracted to the solution?
In September 2014, the Cleveland Browns were announced as the first retail tenant for the project. Like the San Diego and Las Vegas developments, tenants include mostly independent and local retailers and restaurants.
Other similar developments in planning or construction stages in the U.S. include:
- Deep Deuce retail development in Oklahoma City
- The SuperPier development in New York City
- The Grove Business District in St. Louis
Container development is also popular in international markets such as London, England, and Melville, South Africa.
London was a little ahead of the game when, in late 2011, it opened its first pop-up shopping mall made of shipping containers, called BoxPark. Again, most tenants are small, local retailers, but unlike the developments in the U.S., however, BoxPark includes some recognizable retail names, including Nike and Gap.
The Melville retail center, dubbed 27Boxes, is under construction and will include 78 retail shops, an art gallery, a bakery, a micro-brewery, restaurants, a children’s play area and an amphitheater.
The benefits of container developments are clear for cities, developers, and users of space.
Written by Janie French, Director of Business Development