There are many housing projects underway across our region. But there's one that stands out from the rest. Two apartments located near Holcomb Avenue and Moran Drive in Reno are made from shipping containers. The two units have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, with the upper unit having a deck. The average rent for the units is $1,800/month.
Bryan Raydon with Marmot Properties says his team learned a lot of lessons along the way. The project was expected to cost $400,000, but went over budget by 25 percent, as the team had to deal with steel tariffs and also building fees from the city.
"I already hear people saying it's not affordable," said Bryan Raydon, who co-owns real estate company Marmot Properties with his two brothers. " We paid $16,000 a unit in fees. We had to put in concrete sidewalks and parking (because the city required us to). The requirements make the city better but they also make it harder to make affordable housing."
For Raydon, the apartments are the culmination of a five-year journey that started out much differently. The project was originally envisioned as more-affordable tiny homes with multiple units. But rising costs and the challenges of developing in Midtown led to a two-unit, upscale apartment project instead.
Raydon typically works on home projects that take six to seven months. The storage container duplex took twice as long - about two years - and with a price tag to match. Add the time when the concept came to mind and Raydon says it took five years of his life. "My brothers call it 'Bryan's Waterloo,'" Raydon said.
Raydon says the costs will make sense when people enter the apartments, which were built in partnership with Reno fabricator Twisted Metal Works. The interior boasts deluxe finishes such as real tile, wood floors and high-quality faucets and showers.
Even as Reno-Sparks finds itself in a housing affordability crunch, higher-end apartments are also being quickly snapped up by renters, Raydon said. These include units that cost even more than the shipping container apartments.
The trend points to the large demand for housing, fueled by the growth of The Biggest Little City. During the third quarter of 2019, average rents in Reno-Sparks hit another record, $1,345 a month, according to real estate appraiser Johnson Perkins Griffin. The average apartment vacancy was just over 3%. Even as several apartment projects are in the works, supply is projected to be tight this year.
"Vacancies are expected to remain very low," according to the report.
Raydon says he also isn't sure if he'll do another storage container project again. Still, he believes his so-called personal Waterloo will be worth it in the long run - even if it ends up being the first and last of its kind in Midtown.
"It'll be here long after I'm dead," Raydon said.