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What's This?

If our roundup of 16 multi-family housing projects being built around Louisville was a little too conventional for you, you may want to consider moving to Schnitzelburg. A team of investors is proposing a radically new type of housing for the city: shipping container apartments.

“We want to make an architectural statement,” Gant Hill, owner of Gant Hill & Associates and a member of the development team, told Broken Sidewalk. “Our goal is to make them fun and very unique.”

The project site at Shelby and Ash streets. (Courtesy Google)
The project site at Shelby and Ash streets. (Courtesy Google)

Besides Hill, the team includes Rick Kueber, founder and CEO of Sun Tan City, and Bella Portaro Kueber, owner of Bella Vita Media. The complex is being designed by Mark Foxworth of Foxworth Architecture and shipping container guru Jeremy Semones of Core Design will fabricate the units. As you may recall, Foxworth and Semones are working on another exciting shipping container community hub in the Park Hill neighborhood along Dixie Highway.

The project site at Shelby and Ash streets. (Courtesy Google)
The project site at Shelby and Ash streets. (Courtesy Google)
The former Ash Street Station bar was on the site. (Broken Sidewalk / Google)
The former Ash Street Station bar was on the site. (Broken Sidewalk / Google)

In December, the team purchased three lots on the corner of Shelby Street and Ash Street where a corner commercial building, formerly the Ash Street Station bar, burned in 2011. The grassy lot would be dotted with duplex apartment buildings, although a layout is still in the works.

Hill said the project, called the Schnitzelburg Container Apartments, is still very much conceptual and subject to change, but that there could be up to six apartment units on the site.

“We don’t know the final layout yet, Hill said. “A lot of it comes down to how we can maximize the site.” He said the team is looking at how to handle parking and provide quality green space for residents.

Conceptual layout of the Schnitzelburg Container Apartments. (Courtesy development team)
Conceptual layout of the Schnitzelburg Container Apartments. (Courtesy development team)

“Our target audience is anybody that…looks for high quality and smaller spaces,” Hill said. “Somebody that looks for something unique and different than what can be traditionally found on the market.” Hill declined to reveal rental rates for the units, but said they would be in line with existing rents in the area, such as the Germantown Mill Lofts a block north.

Hill said the proposal speaks to the larger evolution taking place in Germantown and Schnitzelburg. “It’s a vote of confidence in the momentum and energy that Germantown is currently experiencing,” he said. “We’re hoping to continue to celebrate that.”

Conceptual mockup of the Schnitzelburg Container Apartments. (Courtesy development team)
Conceptual mockup of the Schnitzelburg Container Apartments. (Courtesy development team)

“We feel that this design is going to really showcase the neighborhood and the semi-industrial cool aspect of that location,” Hill said. “I think the fact that we’re using a container as a structure is going to really play into the landscape of the area. It’s going to be really dynamic.”

The project has not been submitted to Metro Louisville’s Planning & Design Services for review and Hill said the team is working hard to make the project easily understandable since it’s such a new concept for residential use in the city. He said the site shouldn’t need rezoning to accommodate the apartments.

Conceptual mockup of the Schnitzelburg Container Apartments. (Courtesy development team)
Conceptual mockup of the Schnitzelburg Container Apartments. (Courtesy development team)

The development was unveiled by Bella Portaro Kueber in a Facebook post Wednesday that has since gone viral. In it, a series of renderings show the early design of the scheme.

If the approval process goes smoothly, the team hopes to have a model unit—or perhaps even the entire complex—built as soon as October.

“It’s a radical concept,” Hill said. But one that’s very much possible in Louisville. “This is cool,” he continued. “It’s not going to be cheap windows and doors and trying to stuff everything in a shipping container. It’s going to have modern finishes and designed for today’s lifestyle.”

The site, red, in the larger neighborhood context. (Courtesy Google)
The site, red, in the larger neighborhood context. (Courtesy Google)

The area has seen a lot of change in the past couple years. A block north, the group called Three Points, for the confluence of the Schnitzelburg, Germantown, and Shelby Park neighborhoods, continues to beautify the area with landscaping, new trees, and murals.

Farther north in Shelby Park, several groups including impact investment firm Access Ventures, have been revitalizing that neighborhood with new retail including the just-opened Scarlet’s Bakery at Shelby and Oak streets.

Closer to the development site, the Art Sanctuary is providing studio space for artists and the Dairy Del is welcoming crowds for ice cream in the summer.

“There’s just something terribly dynamic about this area—a heightened tension from a variety of elements,” Byron Hoagland, a property owner in Germantown, a private developer, and urban advocate, told Broken Sidewalk. “The original city street grid meets the eastern growth pattern, the train tracks cross Shelby Street and gently curve to the grid, the large industrial structures huddling close to the tracks, Shelby’s slight meander toward Burnett as it breaks free from the grid, the old hospital on Shelby (now a men’s treatment center), the City Incinerator.”

The area is distinctly a border condition and the shipping container proposal is taking full advantage of that. With the momentum the neighborhood is seeing with the completion of the Germantown Mill Lofts and new retail and restaurants, the Schnitzelburg Container Apartments might be just what this part of town needs.

“That urban tension will only be heightened by new high-modernism utilizing older industrial materials,” Hoagland added. “I’m kinda giddy here!”

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Branden Klayko

Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

6 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting…welcome to the neighborhood…feel free to connect with the Schnitzelburg Area Community Council for feedback or help with neighborhood issues.

  2. Thanks Mike. I live and work on Lydia Street in the neighborhood. I’d love to talk with you about the project and we’d definitely like to have your support and feedback.

  3. Saw this article on another site and kind of thought this was a pipe-dream because I couldn’t figure out how the layout would work (provide adequate living space but still maintain structural integrity). Then took a look at Core Design’s website… WOW.

    This is going to be a really cool project… can’t wait to see it when it’s done.

  4. I’m a carpenter and am so baffled by the shipping container fad. Outside of being cool or offering a certain aesthetic it a seems to be an incredibly inefficient way to build compared to steel/stick framing. By the time it is attached to a foundation, retrofitted for mechanicals and the necessary framing to secure/conceal them, insulated and drywalled/trimmed what do you gain? I am so curious…..

  5. I agree with Drew—this idea sounds like a fad to me. Of course I welcome new residents to our neighborhood, but I can’t help being concerned that this development will congest the area further & compete with the Germantown Mill Lofts project that is already in progress.

  6. Drew, it can be an inefficient way to create buildings… in fact, shipping containers will likely only account for about 10% of the total cost of the build: https://westerncontainersales.com/shipping-container-prices/louisville-shipping-container-prices/

    However, I really suggest you take a look at Core Design’s website… They don’t take a traditional carpentry approach to the process. It’s really an entirely new way to build: http://www.coredesign.biz/

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