Local entrepreneur plans "affordable" shipping container apartments

By December 2018, a vacant lot at 26 N. Bellevue Avenue in the Medical District could be occupied by an innovative housing complex. 

Local entrepreneur Fred Spikner has proposed building apartments in shipping containers. 

The project joins other recent developments that utilize shipping containers like the Shab Chic Marketplace at the Edge, which is a retail village that just opened up in the nearby Edge District, as well as OUTMemphis’ building a youth homeless shelter with the containers.

Spikner also owns Spikner Embroidery and Screen Printing and Park Place Recycling, a recycling company he started over four years ago.

Related: "Spikner stitches together separate recycling and embroidery businesses"

“From there, we had been recycling all types of products and shipping them overseas using the containers,” said Spikner. “I wondered how we could repurpose some of the things we used.”

The idea for the project came to Spikner because Park Place Recycling was reusing the shipping containers to create recycling containers for use at schools and neighborhood recycling centers.

His proposed three-story residences will include 14 “containiums”, which are made up of 40-foot and 20-foot containers. Square footages will range from 640 square feet to 800 square feet

He sees potentially doing more projects of this type, and he’s looking at South Memphis and Midtown as good starting points.

“We want them to be in small places, and we want to show we can make these small homes fit in any space,” said Spikner, who says the containers are also ideal for use as “man caves” or storage spaces in the backyard or even as a garage.

“We’re taking these containers and making them look really nice,” he said.

Spikner purchased the half-acre parcel on parcel on Bellevue several years ago and had planned apartments initially.

Local architect Josh Bellaire created the designs for the new building.

Spikner is hoping for approval from the city’s Board of Adjustment in late December, and construction could get underway by next August. Castle Black is signed on as the general contractor.

“We want to create some affordable housing around Memphis. Not everyone makes $20 an hour,” said Spikner. “I think it will be great in this economy.”

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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