Winnipeg close to having its first shipping container condo

Winnipeg is one step closer to its first multi-housing project built out of recycled shipping containers.
The 18-unit condo complex, slated for a residential lot at 956 Notre Dame Ave., recently received the go-ahead from Winnipeg’s City Centre community committee.
Tali Zhiubritskaya, the Toronto business coach/developer behind the Nightingale 956 project, is hopeful of receiving the green light from city's executive policy committee and city council next month. The West End property has been in the Zhiubritskaya family for more than 80 years.
“We're very, very excited,” Zhiubritskaya told the Winnipeg Free Press. “We've passed our first hurdle and we got a really great response and acceptance of what we're hoping to achieve.”
The three-storey complex would include 36 40-foot shipping containers stacked three across and six high. It would also feature geothermal heating and cooling.
Shipping container housing can succeed
Winnipeg condo specialist Bill Thiessen is confident the project can succeed.
“The boxcar to build housing idea has been floating around for quite a while,” Thiessen says. “Winnipeg hasn’t seen a lot of it, but having watched enough of the world, we know that there’s all kind of structures being built.
“I think it’s interesting and probably workable, it’s not like it’s a climate issue. It won’t be affected by Winnipeg’s cold weather.
“And I think Winnipeg has shown a real appetite for unique architecture,” he adds, citing as an example 62M Condos, currently under construction, which “looks more like a spaceship or a flying puck than a building.”

Noted architect lends credibility
Thiessen says the fact noted Winnipeg architect David Penner is involved in the project gives it instant credibility.
“He’s very very, very, very well-known here and if he attaches himself to something, it’s probably going to be OK,” Thiessen said. “He’s always thought of as very contemporary. . .
“When David Penner puts together a multi-family project, that carries a lot of cachet and a lot of people will come to look at it.”
As Thiessen sees it, two keys to the project’s success are price point and financing.
“If it’s $200,000 up to no more than $250,000, that’s a good price point,” he says. “You’re talking Winnipeg dollars, so once you’re up to $300,000 you’ve lost a lot of potential buyers.
“And Winnipeg tends to be a little more old-fashioned or conservative. Once they build something, Winnipeggers will embrace it. It’s not like Toronto or Vancouver, though, where they will line up around the block to buy a piece of paper.
“Winnipeggers like to be able to be able to touch what they buy. That could be a problem if they have to pre-sell to finance the construction.”
Winnipeg ready for this project
Thiessen believes Winnipeg is ready for a project like Nightingale 956 and would recommend it to prospective clients.
“I’ve got a friend that’s an architect who’s always ranting about the possibility of these containers,” he says. “They’re literally like a LEGO brick because they’re so structurally sound and how they can be attached to each other. I’ve been hearing the merits of these for a while.
“If they can deliver something very cool, very funky with a good price point, I think they’ll have something here.”
Sustainable building design specialist Stephen Pope remains skeptical, however.
“Shipping container architecture is one of those things where people think they can get good space from reusing a ‘found resource’ cheaper than making a conventional building.” Pope says. “The driving sense is ‘getting something good for cheap.’ Often by the time it's all said and done, they spend as much if not more, for more constrained kinds of space.
“Shipping container architecture suffers from the same issues as modular building (the end product is often a custom one so the costs are not cheap), except shipping containers don't give the same building quality as modular building.
“I don't have any problem with someone who wants to live in such a project, but that's a matter of personal taste, not “a better form of housing.’ “



Ann launched RENX in 2001 as a part-time venture and has grown the publication to become a primary source of online news for the Canadian real estate industry. Prior to…

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Ann launched RENX in 2001 as a part-time venture and has grown the publication to become a primary source of online news for the Canadian real estate industry. Prior to…

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