Downtown Design Review Board staff recommended final approval for a project to retrofit 18 shipping containers into 320-square-foot apartments in the Cathedral District.
The DDRB will consider the final designs Thursday for the $1.2 million project at 412 Ashley St. The board is scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. in the Ed Ball Building at 214 N. Hogan St. on the eighth floor in room 851.
Proposed by JWB Real Estate, the units would rent for about $550 per month.
The board gave conceptual design approval for the project in May. A groundbreaking date for the project has not been announced.
JWB President Alex Sifakis said May 9 that the containers would be manufactured and retrofitted off-site. The completed containers would be shipped to the property for assembly.
Plans call for the west exterior wall of the container apartments to feature an urban mural.
DDRB staff recommends the board approve three code deviations requested by JWB — eliminating an off-street parking requirement, reducing the required width of the sidewalk and waiving the requirement that the pedestrian entrance face the street.
City code requires 18 off-street parking spaces for a residential development with the density of the proposed container apartments project.
In their analysis released Friday, DDRB staff members said enforcing the requirement would require a parking lot and reduction in the project’s density. Officials said that is counter to the DIA and city’s push to increase the amount of Downtown residential housing.
“Higher, transit supportive density is promoted in Downtown in order to reduce dependence on single-occupancy vehicles,” the staff wrote. “Reducing dependency on single-occupancy vehicles and promoting transit are within the public interest.”
If approved, the developer will have to work with the city’s traffic engineer to relocate the “no parking anytime” signs on Ashley Street to increase on-street parking to compensate for the deviation.
The container project received conceptual approval from DDRB before the City Council approved new Downtown design standards in June.
The new standards require Ashley Street have 12-foot sidewalks.
Plans for the container project show the existing sidewalk being expanded to 7 feet, still short of the requirement.
The board also will consider waiving the requirement of a pedestrian entrance facing the street. The container development’s design has the rear of the containers facing Ashley Street.
DDRB recommends the board allow the main entrances to face the courtyard at the center of the property, because of the design of the proposed community.