Florence industrial hotel transforms shipping containers into hotel units


FLORENCE – Two young entrepreneurs who believe their generation should be able to have affordable housing have opened the industrial hotel in Florence, where shipping containers turned into hotel rooms offer a glimpse into what it’s like to live in a tiny house.

Wyatt Reed, owner of Fire Age Designs, first introduced the idea of ​​teaching others to create tiny mobile homes to officials at Fremont Economic Development Corp. in a “Shark Tank” -type competition in 2019. His third prize helped launch the idea. But meeting her like-minded friend Barna Kasa, owner of KDevelopers, helped make the idea a reality.

Now, as industrial hotel partners, 360 E. Industrial Blvd. in Florence both are “super excited and tired – it’s been a lot of work. We have two units completed and two planned, ”said Reed.

The entire theme of the hotel, which is booked through Airbnb, is “where possible, recyclable materials, second-hand materials or salvaged materials are used.” It’s generational – we no longer try to burn the planet down and we believe in the sustainability of the planet, ”explained Reed.

The idea has enormous appeal for those who prefer to participate in sustainable tourism. These are the travelers who will stay in places like the industrial hotel because they want to frequent eco-friendly establishments.

“One way of thinking is that there aren’t little shampoo bottles that get thrown away. It’s just these little things you can do that are helping the planet, ”Reed said.

Wyatt Reed (left) and Barna Kasa discuss plans for their next small hotel while sitting inside the first unit they created inside a shipping container in Florence.

Kasa, whose business motto is “Save the past, build the future”, is the owner of Salvage, Antiques, Vintage etc. at 208 W. Main St. in downtown Florence. His whole life is focused on dismantling old structures and finding uses for every material, from every piece of wood to every doorknob.

Because building materials are particularly difficult to obtain and expensive these days, it finds uses for salvaged steel which can become a countertop, ceiling panels, or even a shower stall. Wood from “all of Fremont County, from old garages to barn lumber,” is used for paneling and fencing.

“Disposable” items have a new use

Take the hotel’s Unit 1 for example – it has used cabinets and old lockers from Canon City Middle School and Washington Elementary in Canon City which are great compact storage units. The doors came from the upper floor of the Florence Brewing Company, which is being renovated.

It has a living room, a coffee bar area, a bathroom and a bedroom large enough for a king-size bed.

The tile is made by Reed and Kasa themselves, made from old plastic plant containers from a nursery. They get them from Swink Clean Valley Recycling in exchange for other recyclable plastics.

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Reed is proud, “We take the plastic from the trash and turn it into a finished product that looks damn cool.”

Converting shipping containers typically takes less than 30 days, and even the simplest design changes can save up to $ 1,000 in lumber costs. For those in need of a little more space, the tiny two-story home includes a shipping container downstairs that doubles as a storage garage, gym, or ETSY commercial space with living quarters. dwelling above.

Barna Kasa (left) and Wyatt Reed close the shipping container to show how the cottage can be locked while the owner is away or moved to a new location.

Unit 2 will be fully compliant with the United States Disability Act with a larger bathroom designed to accommodate a wheelchair.

The Industrial Hotel features the bubbling Coal Creek that winds through the back of the small apartment units. It is a peaceful setting for outdoor barbecues.

Even the old sandstone blocks of the industrial hotel site, which once housed a guesthouse 50 years ago, will be integrated into the permaculture landscaped garden that will reuse the site’s leachate water. Local permaculture designer Kaila Kobow of Vitalscape Design will create plans for an on-site native pollinator garden to regenerate the landscape and riverbanks and it will even feature edible plants.

Shipping containers speed up construction time

Older shipping containers are proving to be an ideal starting point for small homes as they are extremely durable, help speed up construction, and can also be mobile. Reed said the company is like a smaller “base” version of indieDwell in Pueblo, where shipping containers are turned into lodgings.

“They’re like somewhere between a full-size motorhome and an extremely durable mobile home,” Reed said.

The idea of ​​the industrial hotel is simple. It is a place to stay for those considering the cottage lifestyle.

“It’s our option to try before you buy. You can rent a unit and make sure it’s something you want to do and can do, ”Reed said.

Reed is adamant that shipping container homes will be a solid option for his generation to have a fair share of the insane Colorado housing market, where prices are skyrocketing beyond the reach of recent college graduates grappling with student loan debts.

“If you can’t have equity, you can’t have wealth,” he said. “Housing must be accessible, profitable and financially responsible. ”

Small house for those who love the great outdoors

He believes many people don’t need more than 320 square feet of living space if they’re always outdoors enjoying the Colorado outdoors, hitting the trails, biking, or skiing.

Since Florence and Canon City both have secondary suite ordinances in place, the containers can also serve as guesthouses, gymnasiums, or offices. Reed is currently turning a shipping container into a cafe heading to Minnesota.

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The future of profitable housing in Colorado may be about convincing city officials to see that the square footage minimums for housing can be changed.

“It’s proof of the concept. This is what we had to do without zoning changes so they could see that we were not ruining the neighborhood, ”Kasa said.

If all goes according to plan, Kasa owns 10 acres just down the road on Industrial which he hopes he and Reed can transform into a small community of 20-30 units. This is the old site where the prison cells were made for the Supermax federal prison in Florence.

And just as he introduced it to economic development officials a few years ago, Reed offers others the opportunity to learn from him, build alongside him, and, based on what they learn, to create their own little house, “he said.

“We’re pretty proud. We’ve learned a lot along the way and we can do more better and faster,” said Reed.

To find out more, visit theindustrialflorence.com.

Chief Journalist Tracy Harmon covers business news. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or via Twitter at twitter.com/tracywumps.


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