Normally, when passers-by see shipping containers in the Haslet area, they’re mounted on trucks moving in or out of BNSF Railway’s intermodal yard, or one of the many distribution centers near Alliance Airport.
But a local entrepreneur has found a different use for the 40-foot-long containers, which typically are used to haul everything from electronics to mechanical parts between countries such as China and the United States.
Real estate developer Ron Sturgeon is using more than 100 containers as giant building blocks for his new Box Office Warehouse Suites, an office park under construction at 1953 Golden Heights Road, near Harmon Road west of Interstate 35W.
The colorfully painted containers, which are modified to include air conditioning, plumbing and other modern amenities, can be customized to meet the needs of tenants, said Jim Eaton, vice president at Sturgeon’s RDS Real Estate.
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Box Office Warehouse Suites, which is actually part of a 250,000-square-foot business park, is on schedule to open by the end of the year.
The project has begun leasing its space, with monthly rent starting at $875, for space ranging from 320 to 1,600 square feet. Early tenants who have already signed on include Salon & Spa Galleria and Happy Bank ATM center.
“Your space can grow as your business grows,” Eaton said, adding that the containers are made of weather-resistant corten steel.
Although the idea of repurposing shipping containers is still novel in many areas, it’s not unheard of. Earlier this year, construction began on a three-story office building from containers near Evans and Rosedale avenues in south Fort Worth. That project, called Connex at 1201 Evans Ave., is scheduled to be completed in October.
A few years ago Fort Worth entrepreneurs Malcolm Fleet and Dick Varnell built a hotel from 32 shipping containers in Big Lake, a tiny, remote community about 300 miles southwest of Fort Worth, to accommodate workers in the Permian Basin oil and gas fields.
In Latin America and Asia, shipping containers have been converted for residential uses, as a way to encourage recycling and minimalist living.
The business park in Haslet, spread across 35 acres of former ranch land, also features several buildings fashioned from corrugated metal.
Although most of the business park will feature new buildings, an old horse barn was spared and refurbished into office space. The barn, billed as Paddock Place Office Suites, features the original wood on its exterior but a completely modernized interior. Horse stalls were converted into individual office units starting at 125 square feet.
Most of the barn offices are on the first floor, although a stairway to the loft leads to a small conference center. A giant sign hangs from the loft paying tribute to the former tenant, “Conner Farms Percheron.”
Although the barn feels completely modern on the inside, with air conditioning, plumbing and even a small break room that will be shared by tenants, there are still bits of evidence of the structure’s history, including small blemishes on the wooden exterior walls.
“You can see a few spots where the horses used to chew the wood,” quipped Steve Migues, project manager.
This report includes material from Star-Telegram archives.