Container Home Stacks Up Next to Crown Candy

OLD NORTH– According to owner Travis Sheridan, his container home building project is the first single-family development to go up in the neighborhood for more than 25 years. 

“The lot we chose has been vacant since 1981,” said Sheridan. 

Sheridan and his wife Gina have been living across the street from the building site for close to five years. She is a branch manager for the St. Louis County Library System and Travis is president of the Venture Cafe Global Institute in the CORTEX Innovation District. 

The couple’s plan includes an interior space totalling 3,000-square-feet with three bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms and three stories. Sheridan described a great view of the Gateway Arch from the upper floors. 

Visiting the site recently, three workers in reflective construction gear shared their handiwork, which included a fresh coat of dark grey paint planned for much of the exterior. The effect is a bit drab but neighbors may appreciate the change from a clashing mix of orange, green, white and red containers. The lot itself is attractive, with a tall tree in one corner and the ends of the containers jutting out toward Crown Candy, which is a block away from the property.  

One of the main reasons the couple chose shipping containers over stick frame or brick for a home is an estimated six-figure reduction in building costs. They purchased the lot from the city’s Land Reutilization Authority (LRA) for $3,500. A similar project spearheaded by artist Zack Smithey and his wife Brie in St. Charles came in more than $100,000 under traditional building estimates. Smithey helped design the Sheridans’ structure and has his own experiences as a container home owner to shed light on what the couple might expect.

“The Sheridan’s home will be a St. Louis destination,” said Smithey. “And local businesses will benefit from its presence. People still stop to view and take pictures of my house daily with others knocking on the door to ask questions weekly.”

Asked about neighborhood sentiments, Sheridan said: “The neighbors have been incredibly supportive.” 

His assessment was backed up by positive comments from at least one passing car while we spoke.

Smithey discussed the challenges of integrating a new aesthetic into an historic neighborhood in terms of highlighting differences and underscoring contrasts. 

“It’s a disservice to old structures to try to imitate them with new structures in an attempt to blend in,” said Smithey. “When everything is the same, you don’t notice the qualities that make individual structures special. To put a spotlight on a contemporary structure simultaneously puts a spotlight on the traditional structures adjacent to it.”

James Walling

James Walling is a writer with over 10 years experience managing and editing newspapers in the Pacific Northwest, Prague (CZ), Central Texas, and Northeast Montana. He lives in the O'Fallon Park neighborhood in north St. Louis.

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