Zad Roumaya says people are willing to pay $880 a month to live in a complex of 320-square-foot shipping containers he plans to outfit and install in The Cedars. That's $2.75 a square foot, right in line with luxury units across the city of Dallas. The units will come with versions of the necessities you'd expect from an apartment complex. Plumbing, kitchenettes and skyline views that are actually pretty good. There will be a communal dog-friendly space for pet owners, a "cool-ass laundromat" and outdoor grills.
A craigslist ad posted for the project last week has already gotten more than 20 responses, Roumaya says. The ad is targeted at millennials, or maybe a marketing company's fever dream of millennials:
Creative Class? Urbanite? Alternative? Progressive? Kind? Cool? Smart? Artmaker? Art Contributor? Art Buyer?!? - welcome to the Cedars District. Live or Work in these 40' long x 8' wide, high cube (9' high) converted shipping containers. One floor plan, one price.
Taking reservations now for the first phase of 18 ModPod live-work units. OR if you JUST need a great downtown place to work with killer views, then that'll work too!
Walk to bars, boutique hotels, great restaurants, live music, galleries, Indie Film, Working Art Studios, the Alamo Drafthouse, with a direct shot into downtown dallas proper for you worker bees.
Yours are the bragging rights to be among the first members in this shipping container community and development in Dallas, and the Southwest.
If you love travel, understand minimalist and spare (non-material) living, if you are DONE with the mortgage and the nightmare of housing upkeep, then bring it. Millennials - you get it, spread the word, because you have it right! Or, you could go to uptown and pay $1800 - 2500 per month in some huge 400 unit apartment complex, and may you not lose your soul.
There's going to be secured bike parking on the ground level. Storage units, too, but that'll cost an extra $50 a month. Included at no charge is an endless supply of jokes based on the criminally underrated season two of The Wire .
"This is not a price per square foot analysis. It's just not. It never has been," Roumaya says. "I've been watching units in the downtown area for five or six years, even during the downturn, and people paying $1.60 to $2.20 a square foot is not atypical. They're always wait-listed."
Converting shipping containers into housing for the homeless is a growing idea both in the U.S. and Europe. A nonprofit in South Carolina hopes to create a community of 8-by-40-foot converted containers to house homeless veterans, according to The State newspaper in Columbia. Designers and architects are now looking to create fancier versions of container homes for those with money.
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If Roumaya's plan works out, that would mean that members of the Cedars' large homeless population could find themselves sleeping on the streets outside a community of millennial "creatives" paying $2.75 a square foot to live in a high-end shanty town. And those tenants would likely end up complaining about all the homeless people mucking up the streets. That's a situation so ripe with irony — so, so Dallas — that if Roumaya pulls it off, he should get a park named after him.
Roumaya got the idea for the container farm during a visit to France.
"In the last six months, from city connections, millennials moving into the area, current customers, design shops that just want a three-person office and people who just already love the tiny house movement, they're like giving me all these requests for this. Well, I traveled through France and saw this thing, and I thought 'Oh my God, I at least have to go ask the marketplace and connections I know in town, he says."
The plan is to start with 24 units — Roumaya says he's already received interested calls from about that many people — and then go to as many as 100 if the project is successful. The first tenants could move in as early as December.
"If the reservations come in," Roumaya, "I own the land and it's ready."