An imaginative form of 21st century recycling will convert 11 steel shipping containers into high-ceiling rental spaces on Michigan Avenue in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

It’s a way to reuse 40 foot-tall cargo cubes, priced to move amid a global glut and one-way trips by some owners. They serve as the main structural element for a building that mixes pre-fab and custom construction.

Modular design meets loft-style living at a project called SteelHaus to add a bit of European flair. The three-story site at 2426 Michigan Ave., across from Two James Spirits, will have three residential lofts above one to four shops.

Chris Nichols and Nicole Stopka-Nichols found “pieces of history buried in the rubble.” (Photo: Facebook)
“Bridging spaces between the containers allows for an open lofty feel, with ceilings of up to 18 feet,” developers Chris Nichols and Nicole Stopka-Nichols of Detroit post at their site.

Excavation work began last September (“it’s fun to find pieces of history buried in the ruble,” the couple posted) and concrete foundations were poured in December. The first containers came three weeks ago from the construction firm, ModEco Development of Washington Township in Macomb County.

“Since the aesthetics of shipping containers can be harsh, they’ll use wood, greenery and windows throughout the modern, Scandinavian design to bring in warmth,” Robin Runyan writes at Urbanize Detroit, part of a Los Angeles-based news group focusing on architecture, urban planning and commercial development. Runyan, who was Curbed Detroit editor from 2016-19, posts:

The second level will have three apartments — one larger with three bedrooms and a private courtyard in the back and two smaller one-bedrooms facing the train station.

Apartments will have wood floors, walk-in showers and a laundry nook. Occupancy in spring 2022 is envisioned. No rental ranges are posted yet.

ModEco’s first shipping container residence was a three-bedroom Royal Oak home made from seven cubes, which sold for $430,000 in 2015.

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