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VOL. 132 | NO. 65 | Friday, March 31, 2017

2 Midtown Restaurants Seek to Incorporate Shipping Containers

By Patrick Lantrip

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The Broad Avenue Arts District has long been innovative when it comes to the creative reuse of formerly blighted properties, and its newest addition seeks to continue this trend.

The owners of City & State on Broad Avenue filed paperwork with the city of Memphis requesting approval to convert an abandoned liquor store into a diner – fittingly named The Liquor Store – that will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

However, since the design calls for the incorporation of a pair of old shipping containers into accessory buildings, the owners first have to receive approval from the Memphis and Shelby County Board of Adjustment.

“Rather than make alterations to this iconic corner building, at approximately 1,300 square feet, we are instead seeking to utilize the addition of two shipping containers to serve as accessory buildings for both storage and prep kitchen,” the letter of intent said.

The new restaurant, located at 2655 Broad, will partner with the UrbanArt Commission to include a public art installation on the east-facing side of the container, in an effort to connect the property to similar efforts in the neighborhood, according to the application.

Railgarten is one of two Midtown restaurants that want to incorporate converted shipping containers into their design.


“Given the history of Binghampton as a township which grew up around a boxcar factory, we believe these structures pay homage to that history while also investing in its future,” the application went on to say.

The application also contained an endorsement by the Historic Broad Avenue Arts Alliance president Paul West.

“It is fitting that boxcars will once again help drive business and bring life to this street and community,” West said. “What was once a liquor store will now serve and nourish.”

Further down the tracks, Railgarten, a new ping-pong bar located at 2158 Central Ave. in Midtown, also applied to the Board of Adjustment to incorporate converted containers into its design.

While the inspiration comes from the same place, Railgarten plans to modify its containers to be used as outside seating.

“Strategically placed next to the active railroad, the proposed uses will be complementary to the existing uses and in the campus-like atmosphere,” land planner Brenda Solomito Basar said in the application.

Architect Peter Warren said Memphis’ role as an intermodal transportation hub and the importance of shipping to the local economy and civic identity is the context for the plans.

“There are shipping containers appearing in unconventional uses throughout our city, and put simply, they are loved by our citizens,” Warren said. “It is particularly fitting that the humble shipping container be celebrated and used in new and interesting ways here in Memphis.”

He cited the “I Love Memphis” container outside of Memphis Made Brewing Co., the bridge container at Wiseacre Brewing Co. and a container with an integrated seating area over Florida Street.

“Nationally, the past decade has seen an incredible boom in the use of shipping containers as architectural elements,” Warren said. “From adapting them into luxury homes to use by bars and restaurants, this is an established trend, and one that is increasingly accepted and embraced by our increasingly sophisticated and well-traveled citizenry.”

PROPERTY SALES 79 321 2,586
MORTGAGES 90 426 3,033
BUILDING PERMITS 153 796 6,864
BANKRUPTCIES 37 213 2,000