From blink-and-you’ll-miss it South Texas outposts to midtown Motor City, multi-family and mixed-use developments built from retired shipping containers are steadily popping up — or at least being proposed — across the country. Now, a similar project is in the works for the enchanted land of ragtime, toasted ravioli, and massive flattened catenaries.
Although the project is in the early stages of development, a few key details have emerged about St. Louis’ inaugural reused shipping container structure, particularly with regard to location — a long-vacant, city-owned lot on bustling Manchester Ave. in Forest Park Southeast’s revitalized Grove business district — and composition. The three-story mixed-use building would be composed of 10 stacked containers with retail on the first level (four containers), additional retail or office space on the second level (three containers) and an apartment on the third level (three containers). According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis-based project architect Anthony Duncan’s design calls for glass walls that would replace the containers’ steel street-facing ends and wide windows cut out of the containers’ sides.
Developer Patrick Barnidge said to the Post-Dispatch, “I didn’t want to hide it away in a neighborhood as a single family house.” The high-profile project with a not-too-shabby Walkscore rating would be Barnidge’s first foray into cargotecture. Interestingly enough, before he returned to the baseball-crazy burg and formed Delsa Development, the 32-year-old developer oversaw the restoration of several historic villas in Italy. Previously, he worked as an intern for an Italian freight forwarder, which is when he first began to imagine the versatility of shipping containers in an architectural context.
Barnidge tells the Post-Dispatch:
I noticed them more and more on the highway and the individualness of each container. All of a sudden you plant it on the ground and keep it stable. Its life is no longer about moving on the seas but is about retail or residential or office use.
Neighborhood group the Forest Park Southeast Development Committee recently approved the sale of the narrow lot at 4312 Manchester Ave., which was purchased by the Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) in 1980. The next step: Barnidge must negotiate a price with the LRA. The estimated price tag for the privately funded building itself is $500,000.
Located not all that far from the childhood homes of both William S. Burroughs and Tennessee Williams, Barnridge’s infill project in Forest Park Southeast may be eventually joined by a single-family container home elswhere in the city. The home, to be located in St. Louis’ Dutchtown neighborhood, is also being designed by Duncan. Outside of St. Louis, there's no shortage of Missourian container homes including Debbie Glassberg's candy-coated Home Contained project in Kansas City.
And in other St. Louis housing news of the non-steel variety, brick theft continues to be a huge issue in the city's blighted northern neighborhoods.
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