COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus will soon have a new option for affordable housing, and it’s the first of its kind in Ohio.
The 17,000 square foot superstructure for a new three-story apartment complex on Old Leonard Avenue went up in a matter of days. It consists of 54 old cargo containers stacked next to and on top of one another.
Derrick Pryor of AES Development says it’s a huge savings in construction costs.
“Typically to form out a structure that large, you’re looking at over three months,” Pryor said. “What you see here was done in five days.”
It’s believed to be the first use of cargo containers for apartments in Ohio and the largest project of it’s kind in the country.
The “Cargominium Project” was the dream of Michelle Reynolds, founder of Nothing Into Something Real Estate — a nonprofit housing organization that, until now, had focused on converting old, blighted houses into low income homes.
But Reynolds says turning shipping containers into apartments fits with the organization’s “nothing into something” mission.
“Same way, taking homes that are nothing and turning them into somethings and couple that with people who really need a chance and an opportunity to be able to afford housing,” Reynolds said.
The cargo containers look somewhat cold and uninviting now but Pryor says just wait.
“You’re going to have warm covered finishes, you’re going to have hardwood floors, you’re going to have bright colors on the walls,” Pryor said. “Some will have drywall, some will have the exposed corrugation…they will not have a feel that you’re living in a box.”
Cargo containers are designed to withstand some of the most brutal conditions on earth so Pryor says they will stand up well to the weather. He says they will all be insulated adding that he expects some of the interior units will be so well insulated that they may not need to turn their heat on in the winter.
Michelle Reynolds hopes this will be the start of something big here in Ohio and across the country.
“There is a lack of affordable housing around the whole nation and so there needs to be a solution and we just believe that we have a solution to the problem.”