When my 3-year-old's first-ever soccer season wrapped up in October and we stopped making our biweekly trips to the fields at Harry Moss Park in Northeast Dallas, the southwest corner of Greenville Avenue and Meadow Road was empty. It was still empty in November, and at the beginning of December. But it's empty no longer.
The 7-Eleven that now occupies the corner was built in a mind-bogglingly fast five days from a kit that sounds a lot like something you'd get from Ikea.
Forbes describes the pieces in its January 21 issue:
On the corner of a congested Dallas intersection the umpteenth 7-Eleven is being built or, rather, assembled. The construction site consists of tidy stacks of flat-packed, prefabricated wall units, roof panels and other jumbo components trucked from Michigan and labeled and numbered like parts for a giant Ikea Akurum cabinet. What look like supersize bento boxes contain neatly packaged plastic bags of bolts, clips and other hardware. A pair of bathrooms, complete with toilet roll dispenser and baby-changing table, are being lowered by crane into the 3,000-square-foot store's shell, where they'll be plugged in to the plumbing.
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The store is not from Ikea but from a San Francisco start-up called Project Frog. The company offers high-tech building kits for schools, stores and offices that can be easily assembled in a fraction of the time and half the cost of a traditional brick-and-mortar structure while offering greater energy efficiency. A recent $30 million investment from GE and a medical building in Hawaii for Kaiser Permanente have bolstered the company's hope of offering an alternative to typical construction methods.
I've left a message with 7-Eleven to see if prefab outlets are going to be a thing now. Nikki Tankursley, Project Frog's marketing director, says via email that "nothing is on the books yet" but that the company hopes so.
Update at 9:09 a.m.: From 7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris:
It was a project started about a year ago by the head of our construction department who recently retired. It's too soon to tell what the benefits are and whether we will build more stores like it.