Memphis Entrepreneur to Plan and Build Shipping Container Apartments

Memphis may be seeing a new type of apartment building come 2018.

Fred Spikner, a local entrepreneur, has submitted plans for an apartment building made of shipping containers to the Memphis and Shelby County Board of Adjustment. The building would be comprised of 14 separate apartments and constructed in the Medical District.

“People [in the Medical District] need … something nice, livable and easy to get to,” Spikner told the Memphis Business Journal. “I think it’s a good thing to be on that cutting edge.”

Durable steel shipping containers, with an average lifespan of 25 years and minimal maintenance requirements, may be the perfect “cutting edge” material Memphis needs to propel its real estate into the future. The Board of Adjustment is set to review just how viable these plans are later in December 2017. In terms of the project getting approved, Spikner explained that the flat roof may cause some concern, but that the idea itself may gain support in part because it’s “artsy.”

If approved, the 14-unit apartment complex will be built on a 0.6 acre site at at 126 N. Bellevue Boulevard. Spikner explained that each of the 14 units would be 640 square feet and include two bedrooms and one bath. He believes it will cost approximately $1 million to build the apartment complex and $1,000 to rent an individual unit.

This isn’t Spikner’s first venture, either. His other startups include Spikner Embroidery and Screen Printing, as well as ParkPlace Recycling and Logistics. ParkPlace already uses shipping containers to collect and process recycled goods, but Spikner knew there was more he could do with these giant metal boxes. He explained that the initial idea to use shipping containers as apartment units came from a brainstorm regarding how to recycle ParkPlace’s excess shipping units. Considering that almost 5,764 pounds of PRT bottles and jars were available for recycling in 2013, it makes sense that small business owners like Spikner are looking for bigger, bolder ways to truly recycle larger items.

For this project, Spikner is bringing in the help of others, too. In addition to himself, Dorothy Spikner and Dartell Treadwell are listed as property owners for this project. Reaves Firm has been hired to complete engineering and surveying for the grounds, as well.

As for the apartments themselves, Spikner believes the demand will be excellent, especially among “interns or anybody that wants to do small living in Midtown. I think that’s the wave of the future.”

It’s still uncertain whether or not Spikner’s latest venture will succeed, but there’s no question that this project is changing the way many Memphis residents think about housing.


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