This idea has been bandied about on BRO before, and while no further progress has been made locally, the concept of utilizing shipping containers for housing, shopping and even swimming pools continues to arise in other cities. One BRO reader passed along an article in Cleveland.com that shows how the utilitarian containers are being proposed as repurposed shopping kiosks (see here).
I was recently discussing a few ideas along these lines with a friend, who felt that this sort of concept would work well in Buffalo. If you think about all of the underutilized parking lots Downtown, many of which usually have a few parking spaces to spare, then you’ve got the key ingredient for a formula that would look something similar to what we see here.
Place the shipping containers along the outside of a parking lot, as a visual buffer between the road/sidewalk and the lot, and then lease out the containers to pop-up restaurants, retailers and artists. The owner of the lot would make more off the leased containers than the few parking spaces that would be taken up, and there would be a draw for people to park in the lots, as the lots would actually become destinations. This would give budding entrepreneurs the ability to lease the containers as incubator spaces, thus creating density in areas that suffer from parking lot sprawl.
Shipping containers are cheap, easy to manipulate, can be stacked, painted and insulated. They can use solar panels for power, and can be moved about if necessary. They can be permanent or temporary. The ideas are limitless, and we’re not talking about a project that would take years to pull together.
A similar idea was considered for a project on Niagara Street in 2012 (see here).