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Cargo Containers Center of Grand Ave. Housing Project

Wes James, an architect, general contractor and investor, speaks on his phone inside a shipping container in Phoenix. James and his partner, Brian Stark, are building 8 approximately 740 square foot apartments out of 16 shipping containers. The apartments will be at 12th and Grand Avenues in Phoenix. Photo credit: David Wallace/The Republic

By Brenna Goth and Sophia Kunthara for The Arizona Republic

Sixteen weathered shipping containers are trading their lives at sea for windows, insulation, electricity and, eventually, human inhabitants through a new project coming to Grand Avenue.

The 9,500-pound steel boxes will form the architectural and aesthetic base of Containers on Grand, a complex of eight one-bedroom apartments that will sit on less than half an acre off 12th and Grand avenues.

Valley-based STARKJAMES LLC, the contractor and architecture firm behind the project, is aiming to make the containers rental-ready by the spring. The boxes were shipped to Phoenix from Los Angeles in October and November and are sitting in an industrial lot awaiting transformation.

The unusual housing aims to enhance the eclectic character of the Grand Avenue arts district and bring more residential options to downtown, said Wesley James, architect and partner.

The design starts with “cargo-worthy” shipping containers purchased for about $2,500 each plus shipping. The blue boxes are 40 feet long, 8 feet wide and 9.5 feet tall.

Two containers, plus a central core for utilities, will be combined to create each 740-square-foot apartment. Large black tracking numbers, painted-over company names and other markings, will be kept visible to tell the story of where each container has been, James said.

Cutouts in the steel will form windows and larger living spaces between the two containers. A crane will stack the units two stories high in the Grand Avenue lot after that work is completed.

The architects also are considering using the original wood flooring of the containers, James said. Insulation and air conditioning will keep the steel boxes cool.

Units will rent for about $900 to $1,000 per month.

Read more at The Arizona Republic