Habitat for Humanity – North Collin County is taking a very unique approach to solving the affordable housing problem: creating a housing development built entirely from old storage (shipping) containers.

A storage container community: Cotton Groves, McKinney

In the fall of 2017, when Kimberly Kimmons, Land Acquisition Director and Celeste Cox, executive director of Habitat for Humanity – North Collin County approached JD Lee, at the time aa director at Blackard Advisors, about a three acre strip of land in McKinney, he saw an opportunity to do something different. “I saw an opportunity to blend emerging trends of using shipping containers, along with the idea of creating affordable housing, mixed with some (not all) of the aspects of NeoRetroism,” says JD Lee.

[Sidenote: NeoRetroism is a term coined by Jeff Blackard, founder of Blackard Advisors, and is not so much a philosophy on building but on how humans are meant to live. The most important tenants are ownership, a sense of place and community. Read more, here.]

Too small of a project for Blackard Global, JD personally took on the project under his own company, JDL Group, and enlisted Kevin Dingman as lead architect, Brent Hillier, a Canadian developer and other leading minds in the container space industry to help make the Habitat for Humanity – North Collin County’s vision a reality.

Read more: Jeff Blackard’s vision for village life in the modern age

cotton groves, mckinney, texas., storage container homes, community, affordable housing, shipping containers
Cotton Groves, McKinney, Texas. Courtesy of JDL Group

Once a cotton field, the Cotton Groves development will be a 35-unit townhome community that includes a clubhouse amenity center and a park, located at the corner of Bumpas Street and Fitzhugh Street, on the eastside of McKinney, Texas.

“Slaves who once worked the land could never have dreamed of owning a home on it,” says JD Lee. “But today, people with ancestral ties to those who were slaves can now own a piece of this land and a home. Along with two rows of trees that form a grove-like border on the north and south property lines, it was only fitting to name it Cotton Groves.”

Read more: Homelessness in Collin County

Storage container communities

Due to the massive trade imbalance the US has with other countries, storage containers, in many cases, are only used for a few years, and in some cases, only once. The result is a booming trend in recycling unwanted storage containers, particularly as homes.

The average storage container costs approximately $2,000 and they can be stacked together to create multiple rooms and multi-function spaces.

Looking forward, JD Lee is excited about the potential of similar projects. “Cities, developers and organizations are seeing storage container communities as the next generation of affordable housing in America,” he says.

Find out more at cottongroves.com and JDL.group

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Rebecca Silvestri

Rebecca Silvestri is the vice president of Sales & Marketing. She is also the wife of Philip Silvestri, publisher of Local Profile. In a previous life, Rebecca was a math teacher in London and the...