Charlotte designer proposes housing solution similar to shipping containers

Nate Morabito
May 13, 2020

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With the pandemic renewing a push for the City of Charlotte to rely on outside-the-box solutions to address its affordable housing crisis, a local designer’s idea has received initial support from city officials, including the mayor.

Jon Kavajian doesn’t think shipping containers are the solution, but does think cities like Nashville are on to something and is pitching a similar idea.

“What I believe is a more effective solution are units that are highly finished to begin with and essentially arrive on site, are placed and plugged in and good to go,” he said. “Exact sizing to conform to shipping standards, so that these modules can be transported anywhere on the planet.”

After watching a Charlotte Journalism Collaborative story about a shipping container apartment complex in Nashville and hearing renewed energy from a city council member and the mayor about the concept, Kavajian emailed his proposal to Mayor Vi Lyles, Council Member Renee Perkins Johnson and Housing Task Force Member T. Anthony Lindsey.

“They’ve all responded enthusiastically,” Kavajian said.

His idea includes creating a non-profit to provide transportable live or work pods and compact housing that would be flat packed and easily assembled. Kavajian said those products could help, among others, seniors, low income and middle class earners and people temporarily in need of housing.

Emails from each official show an interest in discussing the idea further.

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The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems.