DENVER — Sometimes, dreaming big means starting small. In a rundown car wash off of Colfax, a brightly colored shipping container looks a bit out of place.
The shipping container is a concept design for a new type of affordable housing. Dr. Janelle Briggs is the co-founder and CEO of Stackhouse, an Arizona company that recently made the move to Denver with the goal of creating mobile, modular homes.
The idea is to construct an eight-story building with 62 slots that specialized shipping containers could be slid into. People would then buy the shipping containers and could ship them from building to building when they want to move.
“With Stackhouse, you can buy one home and ship it to any city around the country because our homes are built to federal code, so they’re 50-state legal when they leave for the manufacturing center,” Briggs said.
Each Stackhouse is about 320-square feet and will feature a full-size stove, refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher and Japanese soaking tub.
“It feels just like a studio apartment. This is literally my dream home,” Briggs said.
The building would offer additional features like a parking garage, a rooftop terrace and privacy pods on each floor that tenants could use as workspaces.
Each shipping container home will cost roughly $110,000 at the turnkey price, but it will cost another $200,000 to be able to live in the Stackhouse tower.
In Colorado, the housing market has been thriving over the past year. Libby Levinson-Katz from the Denver Metro Realtors Association Market Trends Committee says while the housing market has begun to slow down a bit, it’s expected to pick right back up again in the fall.
“It’s been incredibly hot over the past year,” Levinson-Katz said. “We didn’t expect this type of velocity to happen.”
Because of the increasing cost and competitiveness of the market, she says home affordability might mean making sacrifices like looking for a smaller unit or losing outdoor spaces.
“The affordability is becoming a real issue. I mean we’re talking about $614,000 being an average sales price here, just average to get into the market, that’s really difficult for a lot of people to swallow,” Levinson-Katz said.
Stackhouse already has a waiting list for its homes. The company has partnered with Denver-based RoxBox Containers and is hoping to eventually be able to bring the price point down as the idea grows.
“The goal of Stackhouse is to add a new column of homeownership to the market,” Briggs said.
Once approved and constructed, the first tower will house 62 units; 40 of the units will be sold to homeowners in a co-op fashion. The other 22 will be used as a try-before-you-buy concept with three-, six- and 12-month leases.
The company is hoping to break ground within the next six to eight months and have the first tower complete within 12-18 months.
Colleen Gardner is one of the potential homebuyers with her name on the list for a Stackhouse. Gardner says she’s been looking to downsize for a while as her kids grew up and moved out of the house.
“For this next chapter what I was looking for in terms of housing was flexibility and affordability and the Stackhouse approach solves both of those issues,” Gardner said. “I think it’s a refreshing new chapter for me.”
Gardner likes the idea of being able to move around without having to sell her house and find a new one at each location.
She considered buying a mobile home but says there’s too many restrictions on where they can be parked and she doesn’t want to have to be a bunch of maintenance or upkeep, so the Stackhouse concept made sense.
Briggs wants the Denver tower to be the first of many across the country and around the world as she tries to reimagine how the American housing model works.