Containers on Grand repurposes storage containers into living spaces


Right now, if you want to live in the heart of Downtown Phoenix, your options would be low-income apartments, pricy luxury condos, high rises or historic homes.

However, StarkJames LLC, a modern architecture and contracting firm in Scottsdale, is presenting Phoenix inhabitants with a unique housing project that is not only low-cost, but is also the definition of sustainable architecture, created with overseas shipping containers.

Sixteen repurposed containers will transform into eight 740-square-foot apartments for residents on Grand Avenue no later than June of this year. Although there have been other housing developments like this in the United States, this is the first market-priced multi-family project in the country, making them affordable for renters looking for trendy city living.

The news of these one-bedroom containers instantly grabbed the attention of potential renters when the firm posted a Craigslist ad for them in January. Since then, the waiting list has grown to 105 people for just eight apartments.

Kathleen Santin, one of the investors on the project, says she was surprised that the people who were interested in renting the apartments were actually young professionals between the ages of 25 and 35 years old, and she wanted to know why.

“They loved the idea of something that is creative, innovative and different,” Santin says.

Also, some of prospective residents were holding off on purchasing a home because their student loans significantly dropped their credit scores, making it more difficult to own.

Santin says there’s no doubt that there is currently a housing shortage in downtown, and even if they are at market price, they don’t necessarily have that sleek, modern look that millennials are searching for.

“The majority of people contacting us love downtown but don’t live downtown. I just think there’s a shift in the generation. People don’t want to be in the suburbs anymore,” Santin says.

The contemporary apartments will include huge windows, a washer and dryer, bathroom, storage, kitchen, bedroom and insulation to keep the containers cool.
Using recycled containers to build is a smart investment because they are cheap, heavy-duty and most of the work is already done for you.
“The construction is faster because the shell and floors are already there,” Santin says.

These containers are built to last. Because of their durability, they will outlive many other buildings in the area because they won’t rust or wear down as easily, Santin says.

The original flooring is staying because it is made of “marine-grade plywood,” a fancy way of saying mahogany, a very resilient type of wood.

All of the boxes have a unique story to tell, so the blue paint and logos on the outside will also be preserved, making each container one-of-a-kind, Santin says.

Because of the amount of people who inquired about this alternative living location, plans to construct more of these complexes are definite.

“We absolutely think there’s going to be some continued projects in the downtown area and maybe in Tempe. We didn’t expect people to be so excited about this. It’s a whole different generation,” Santin says.

Containers on Grand, off Grand and 12th Avenues, Phoenix, 480.994.7340


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