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Shipping Containers Gaining Momentum in New England States


From wide-open spaces in Maine and New Hampshire to the mountains in Upstate New York to city life in New Jersey and Massachusetts, the Northeastern part of the United States consists of a variety of industries, lifestyles, and pace. 

But what all these areas have in common is the need for cost-effective storage, commercial business and housing options.

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That's where shipping containers come in. Residents and commercial developers are increasingly turning to shipping containers as their building material of choice, taking advantage of their durability, versatility, portability and attractive price point. Whether it's repurposing them into retail and entertainment venues, homes or cabins, storage or recycling sites or other unique applications, the Northeast is catching on to shipping container trends.

Below are some unique ways shipping containers are being used around New England. If you're looking for a unique type of construction project or architecture, these applications will get you brainstorming.

Shipping containers serve as temporary shelter for homeless in Newark

With the right customizations, used shipping containers make for comfortable and secure housing. A group of local officials in Newark, New Jersey, is putting that idea to good use by repurposing shipping containers into temporary housing for the area's homeless community.

The project, called Newark Hope Village, was announced in March and is funded by the CARES Act, the Essex County Division of Community Action through the state of New Jersey Code Blue Grant, and the city of Newark. It is believed to be the first of its kind in New Jersey.

According to a news story in ROI-NJ, a New Jersey media outlet, the village will be constructed using seven shipping containers that will be renovated into 20 dorm-style rooms plus two facilities for private shower rooms and a multipurpose space. The new housing will accommodate up to 24 homeless individuals. Each room will include a heater, bunk bed with storage and a dresser.

During the project announcement, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka explained that the purpose of this unique project is "to attract individuals that are shelter-adverse and have been disengaged from traditional shelters and supportive homeless services. The service model aims to transition chronically homeless individuals through targeted street outreach to an atmosphere within the village that can promote healthy living and a continuum of social service supports."

Read more and see photos:

Shipping container farming taking root in Upstate New York

Have you ever heard of shipping container farming? 

John Lekic, chef and owner of Farmers & Chefs in Poughkeepsie, New York, has, and he's using the concept to build a successful business in the Hudson Valley. After learning about shipping container farming at an exhibition at the Culinary Institute of America in 2019, Lekic is taking the farm-to-table restaurant model to new heights.  

According to a story in Albany Times Union, vertical farming with shipping containers is a growing trend for businesses in the Hudson Valley – and around the country - seeking to grow their own produce in a way that requires less space while maximizing yield and reducing produce travel time. That means more fresh ingredients are making their way to plates faster.

Lekic is using a 20-foot shipping container to grow up to 400 pounds of fresh produce a month at his Farmers & Chefs restaurant in Poughkeepsie. His shipping container is divided into four growing fields and is set on the restaurant's property for customers to see, which he said has drawn even more interest to Farmers & Chefs.

He recently connected with an Israel-based agro-tech company called Vertical Field to grow produce such as buttercrunch lettuce, kale and baby arugula, and herbs like rosemary, sage and basil in his enclosed vertical farm.

Read more and see photos:

Shipping containers make ideal portable restaurant in Connecticut

A portable restaurant. 

That's the idea commercial developer Frank Maratta has in mind as he's about to open a new eatery at the Custom House Pier in downtown New London, Connecticut.

The new "portable waterfront restaurant" fits in with the concept of re-purposing old shipping containers into just about anything – storage businesses, homes, restaurants, apartments, and more. 

The new City Dock Restaurant/Oyster Bar on New London's waterfront in southeastern Connecticut is a simple but cost-effective concept. 

The concept of the project is to provide a venue close to the water that can withstand inclement weather and be utilized from spring to fall, then transported away during the off-season. The portability benefit is one of the major reasons shipping containers are ideal for storage, offices and eateries. 

"So next year, easily enough, it's essentially just plugging back in," said the project manager.

Each building is made up of six shipping containers and the kitchen is the width of two shipping containers. One building includes the kitchen and the other houses a bar with all the seating outside. 

Read more and see photos:

Shipping containers used for recycling in southwestern Rhode Island

Talk about the ultimate recycling project. It doesn't get much greener than recycling shipping containers as recycling sheds. 

A landfill in Westerly, Rhode Island, is using two 20-foot shipping containers – rather than traditional dumpster-type bins – as collection containers for motor oil, antifreeze, cooking oil, fluorescent light bulbs, electronics, mattresses, plastic bags, books and other materials. 

As you see in this video, the containers serve as mini recycling centers, with each one used for specific recycling materials. Because shipping containers are built to be secure, they serve this project well, as they can be locked up for days at a time and then reopened each day. This shipping container application could be easily duplicated by businesses that need an environmentally friendly way to dispose of waste or recyclable materials.

Watch the video to learn more:

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