Shipping container “pop-up stores” opening in Chicago
What Commercial real estate developer Related Midwest calls a “pop-up retail market” made of refurbished shipping containers is opening this month in Chicago. Starting their venture on Randolph Street, Related Midwest plans a trial run of a concept that could expand to other areas of Chicago if successful.
Commercial real estate developer Related Midwest plans to open the market this week on a site it owns at 725 W. Randolph St., just west of the Kennedy Expressway in the city’s fast-changing Fulton Market district.
The marketplace, called Box Shops by Related, will be used at the Randolph Street location temporarily until Related is ready to build a 58-story tower with 370 apartments and 165 hotel rooms.
Box Shops will have six container shops of 160 square feet each and one 320-square-foot shop, as well as a 40-foot-long container leaned vertically to use as sign to catch people’s attention from the expressway and nearby restaurants and businesses.
The containers will include Haymarket Pub & Brewery who will have a bar and beer garden. Equinox Fitness will occupy another container, from which it will run outdoor fitness classes on the site. Related Midwest will promote its developments from another container. The remaining four containers will host a rotating roster of small local retailers including a number of minority and women-owned businesses.
Box Shops is a collaboration with Chicago-based architecture firm Latent Design, whose Boombox concept has brought single-container pop-ups to several Chicago neighborhoods. Used containers are retrofitted to add lighting, heat, air conditioning, skylights and wireless internet.
Randolph Street will be Latent Design’s first multicontainer market. Shops are scheduled to officially open June 15. The market will be open daily, from noon until 10 p.m. and plans to run through the end of 2018.
If Box Shops is successful on Randolph Street, Related plans to move the containers to other sites it owns in Chicago. Another location they could place them is The 78, a sprawling South Loop site along the Chicago River where Related wants to build up to 13 million square feet residential complex.
Shipping containers for decades have been converted to multiple uses throughout the world. Containers were used to help revive a retail center in New Zealand after it was devastated by an earthquake in 2011.
In recent years, there have been successful projects in and around London, such as Box Park and Pop Brixton. About five years ago, Starbucks opened several shops made of shipping containers and modular components — including one in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood.
Changing Zoning Laws In Chicago
But until Boombox formed a partnership with the city of Chicago in 2014, there were no building codes or permits governing their use. Through the partnership with the city, Boombox has short-term businesses throughout Chicago.
Retrofitting a container costs Boombox about $25,000 to $50,000. Boombox also has received interest from other cities, including Nashville, Memphis, and Gary, IN.
Pop-ups can allow business to bring retail to neighborhoods where it’s lacking to try out new neighborhood and test the market. At a location such as Randolph Street, which has some of the city’s top restaurants and where retail rents have soared in recent years, it brings local startups into areas they otherwise couldn’t afford.
Making Refurbished Shipping Containers Work for You
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