Certainly, Craig Vanderlaan, executive director of Crisis Housing Solutions, doesn’t think it’s a crazy notion.
During an affordable housing summit in West Palm Beach Wednesday, he told a ballroom full of county officials, lenders and developers that re-purposed shipping containers can be part of the answer to a problem they said has reached a crisis point.
Vanderlaan said shipping containers have been re-purposed into housing units in the Netherlands, Los Angeles, Michigan and in Washington, D.C.
“You can put 16 to 25 units on a half-acre,” Vanderlaan said as audience members looked at each with expressions that ranged from bemusement to intrigue. “Listen, it’s being done. We are basically shovel ready. We’ve already got the shipping containers being donated.”
Rick Clegg has a shipping container “eco retreat” with frontage on the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter.
“People come here to experience what it is like to live in a container, but they come back for the location,” Clegg told The Palm Beach Post in 2015. “This is the first building permit for them in south Florida. They are all welded together. This is where I’m coming in a hurricane.”
Clegg’s retreat brings to mind comments Vanderlaan made on Wednesday.
“Look at ’em like Lego blocks,” he said. “You can fun with this. Millennials love this stuff.”
Traditional residential builders poked fun at the concept.
“I don’t want to live in a container house,” said Tony Palumbo, real estate acquisition director for Pulte, which, according to its web site, builds houses in 50 markets across the country. “I don’t care how cute it looks. And I don’t think my kids do, either.”
As the audience chuckled, Palumbo added: “But I would like to follow it through the permitting process.”
County Administrator Verdenia Baker said the county wouldn’t automatically reject a development project that included shipping container homes.
“I’m interested,” she said. “If they’re dressed properly, then, yes. Why not?”
Baker said her staff would want to make sure the shipping container homes are “durable and stable for us and not a fad.”