Shipping Containers Could Find New Life Downtown

LAS VEGAS -- By early next year, shipping containers could be home to retail shops, boutiques and offices near Fremont and 7th streets in downtown Las Vegas.

The Downtown Project, spearheaded by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, announced plans to transform two vacant lots into a sort of flexible urbanism, using the repurposed containers to provide entrepreneurs a place – Central Container Park -- to set up shop.

Raj Patel, who owns City Center Motel across the street, said before he heard of the plans for the park, he was considering selling his business.

"I remember one time going to El Cortez and saying, ‘You want to take it?'" he said.

But that's changed. Now, Patel said he can't wait for the shipping containers to arrive.

"I couldn't imagine what it was going to look like," he said. "I hadn't heard anything about the containers. Then I started Googling a lot of that stuff.

"I think it's unique. I know they've had it in a few other cities and I'm looking forward to see what it looks like out here."

Before the containers can be stacked two-high and configured in such a way as to provide retail and office space, and even a playground area, the Las Vegas City Council must approve it.

Las Vegas Councilman Ricki Barlow said he was hesitant at first.

"All I could envision was real old rusty boxcars," he said. "I couldn't get my mind away from that element."

But Barlow said he will give Central Container Park his full support.

"We have an opportunity to bring in something exciting and new," he said. "Something that will make your eyebrows go, ‘Really?'"

Patel said he is considering renovating his property in anticipation of the park.

"I had no idea that things like those were possible, you know?" he said "Then I started to think about things I can do with containers on my property."

The city council is expected to decide Wednesday whether to permit the container park. If approved, it could open by spring 2013.


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