Shipping containers to townhouses?

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A two-story, duplex, made of shipping containers, is under construction at 714-716 Collins Avenue, off Linden Street. Officials say the apartments will be “cutting edge.”

(Journal-Tribune photo by Mac Cordell)

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Above is a rendering of the two-story, duplex, under construction at 714 and 716 Collins Ave. The building will be constructed of 11 separate shipping containers.

(Photo submitted)

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“We are looking to repurpose, reuse and recycle,” said Vernon Morrison, owner of Lighthouse Mortgage Services.

Morrison is working on what he believes is the only duplex townhouse made of shipping containers east of the Mississippi, “or maybe the United States.”

Morrison said he thinks the area is ready for a one-of-a-kind housing option.

“Marysville is currently cutting edge,” Morrison said. “We thought, ‘Let’s continue that.’”

He called the project, under construction at 714 and 716 Collins Ave., “creative, trendy.”

In applying for a variance to allow the homes, Morrison said the neighborhood is “a very much hodgepodge” of uses.

City officials said the project meets permitted use regulations. Zoning officials said city staff was in support of the request

City engineer Jeremy Hoyt said there’s, “not a lot to do.”
“It is a permitted use. It is permitted materials,” Hoyt said. “We will just have to see how it goes.”
Hoyt said he has not spoken with other city officials or legislators but believes, “if it goes bad, we will probably try to find a way to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
He said that’s always the issue with any first-of-its-kind project.
“You don’t know exactly what you’re going to get,” Hoyt said. “You just do your best, see how things turn out and go from there.”

Morrison said he owns many of the surrounding properties and has not had any complaints from the others.

“So far, everyone thinks it’s the coolest thing, including the city,” Morrison said.

He said he is hopeful potential residents find the apartments as cool.

He said he has conducted site visits around the country and internet research, looking at the best options.

The structure will house a pair of side-by-side, two-story high apartment. He said each two-bedroom, two bath apartment will be about 1,080 square feet. The apartments will each have a small patio and a balcony, Morrison said.

He said the entire building will be made of 11 shipping containers.

“We will be painting them,” Morrison said. “Colors yet to be determined. I have contemplated some things, but nothing is set in stone.”

Inside, Morrison said, exterior walls will be insulated and dry walled, but the design will take advantage of the industrial nature of the crates.

He said there are other potential options, including solar power, but he wants to get the facility built, “then see what we can do.”

“I am going to try to keep these rent levels as low as possible for affordability,” Morrison said.

He added, “we don’t even know where that level is going to be because we are learning every day.”

He clarified that, “with what this is costing me, this is not low-income housing.”

Morrison said he is about two months behind construction schedule based on the wet spring and the novelty of the project. He said things like the weight of the containers and getting venders to bid on work add to the unexpected delays.

“Almost everything is a learning curve,” Morrison said. “There isn’t one thing that we are doing that has been normal.”

Morrison said the second stories will be installed in the next three to four weeks, “and it will start really taking shape.”

He said he is planning an open house and a website when the building is close to finished.



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