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D.C.'s first shipping container apartments coming to Brookland

Tuesday - 7/15/2014, 5:17am  ET

Matthew Grace and Sean Joiner are doing their part to save the planet, one shipping container apartment at a time.

Brookland Equity Group LLC, led by Grace and Joiner, was issued a permit Friday to convert a single-family home at 3305 Seventh St. NE in Brookland into a three-story, four-unit shipping container apartment building. The demolition and foundation permit for the same project was issued last month.

Per the D.C. zoning office, four feet of the exterior wall of the existing home will be retained, as will the cellar (where one apartment will be located). There will be three floors of shipping container apartments, plus a shipping container mechanical penthouse. There are few of these, if any, in the District right now.

The designs were drawn up by D.C.'s Travis Price Architects. In paperwork submitted to the D.C.'s zoning administrator, the project objective was described as creating a "new, bold, ecological, recyclable kit of parts housing module, and to help make use of one of America's biggest problems: No exports of goods — 700,000 (and counting) sea containers left in our sea ports."

Gary Imhoff, one half of the watchdog organization D.C. Watch, is none too pleased. He wrote in the June 25 edition of his biweekly newsletter: "Prefab shipping container houses can be made to look nice in architect’s plans. So can trailer parks. But I suspect that a few decades of wear will quickly turn them into slums. This is the sort of housing development, along with micro apartments, that our city planners hope to stuff us in."

I would argue that shipping container apartments, like micro units, are a welcome addition to D.C.'s increasingly diverse housing stock. The more diversity in choice and affordability, the stronger the community. But that's just me.

Other permits issued Friday.

  • 1050 Connecticut Ave. NW, seventh floor: Interior alteration of 49,000 square feet of existing office space at Washington Square. Lerner Enterprises and The Tower Cos., co-developers of Washington Square, announced in March that Mercer, a global consulting firm, would lease 56,460 square feet there, occupying the seventh floor of the 12-story office property.
  • 7701 Georgia Ave. NW: Rehab of a 46-unit, six-story apartment building located three blocks south of the Maryland/D.C. line. Work will include new plumbing fixtures, new HVAC units, upgraded electrical and modified layouts in some units.
  • 1738 Connecticut Ave. NW, 1835 18th ST. NW: Bistro Du Coin and Lauriol Plaza, respectively, will upgrade their existing kitchen hood fire suppression systems to provide proper protection for cooking equipment. The work in both cases is being done by Guardian Fire Protection Services.

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