Boise & Garden City

New shipping-container homes for low-income renters coming to Boise neighborhood

How IndieDwell turns used shipping containers into houses

IndieDwell started with an idea and now is in producing homes from used railroad shipping containers in its Caldwell plant.
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IndieDwell started with an idea and now is in producing homes from used railroad shipping containers in its Caldwell plant.

A cluster of low-income rental homes on 28th Street in Boise will be torn down and replaced with shipping-container homes built in Caldwell by Boise-based IndieDwell.

Eight of the company’s modular homes will replace three duplexes, each nearly 70 years ago, at 2004 N. 28th St. for the El-Ada Community Action Partnership, an antipoverty nonprofit.

“They’re no longer in need of repair. They’re in need of replacement,” El-Ada Director Tim Lopez told the Boise City Council on Tuesday.

Lopez said the shipping-container homes would fit into the residential neighborhood while being modular and durable. He said tenants of the current units “deserve a decent, new affordable place to live.”

At the moment, all six units are occupied. Those tenants would have to relocate temporarily, Lopez said. People living there now have indicated they would come back after the replacements, he said.

Lopez said he wasn’t sure of the monthly rents at the current units but estimated that they start at less than $600 a for one-bedroom unit, about $700 for a two-bedroom and about $900 for a three-bedroom.

The new units, referred to as Sanders’ Crossing in some government documents, would also range from one to three bedrooms in size. Their rents would have to be higher to help pay for the units but would still be much lower than other places in the city, Lopez said.

RentCafe, a website that track rental market trends, estimates the average monthly rent in Boise to be $1,190.

Members of the Boise City Council said they were glad to see the project. Councilman TJ Thomson called it “one of the most well-thought-out dwelling projects I’ve seen in a while.”

“I commend you and encourage you to buy more property in Boise and put some more affordable housing,” he said.

The council voted unanimously to approve a rezone of the 0.55-acre parcel the project sits on from R-1C (single-family residential, allowing eight units per acre) to R-1M (town lot residential, allowing 17 units per acre).

That change would allow for the planned expansion, and possibly more units there in the future, Lopez said. Lopez said his agency likes “the idea of potentially building up” and stacking units as one might see in an apartment complex, though it’s not yet clear if that is feasible.

In other business:

Houses approved despite fire concerns from neighbors

The councildenied a North West Neighborhood Association appeal of a proposed residential development at 9689 and 9731 W. Shields Ave., green-lighting the 18-home Breezy Place subdivision as a contract between the Boise Fire Department and the Eagle Fire Department is in place in the area.

Neighbors said the area already lacks proper fire protection and more homes would increase risk. Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan has said the area receives comprehensive fire coverage, as the Boise and Eagle fire departments and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management provide mutual aid.

Boise annexes right-of-way along State

The council also voted to annex a half-acre at 7470 West State St. With that, the council also annexed 1.5 miles of right-of-way along State Street between Gary Lane and Ulmer Lane, in an area the city annexed a few years ago.

On the westbound side of the street, ownership shifted between being unincorporated Ada County land and city of Boise land. The right-of-way annexation is required by Idaho state code, which says road right-of-way must be fully included into a jurisdiction when annexed.

The change will clear up boundaries among Boise, Garden City and Ada County, and it will allow for clearer addressing of properties and clarity for emergency-service delivery. The delivery of police and fire services will not change, officials said.

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Hayley covers local government for the Idaho Statesman with a primary focus on Boise. Previously, she worked for the Salisbury Daily Times, the Hartford Courant, the Denver Post and McClatchy’s D.C. bureau. Hayley graduated from Ohio University with degrees in journalism and political science.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.