Edmonton's first shipping-container apartment building under construction

The developer behind Edmonton's first apartment block made entirely of shipping containers is looking to build more.

3-storey building expected to be finished in 3 months

'We wanted to take it to Sea Can 2.0'

5 years ago
Duration 1:28
Developers in Edmonton who are building an apartment building out of shipping containers credit the modular design for the lower-cost and faster construction. 1:28

The developer behind Edmonton's first apartment block made entirely of shipping containers is looking to build more.

Westgate Manor, at 95th Avenue and 163th Street, looks like any walkup and inside, the suites are complete with bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms, all finished in drywall.

But the 20-unit apartment building is put together with 48 steel shipping containers.

The containers were modified in Calgary and prefabricated into apartments. They are then shipped to Edmonton and stacked together. The building's three storeys are expected to take a little more than a day to erect.

"Just like Lego and that sort of thing," said Larry Slywka, director of construction with Ladacor Advanced Modular Systems. "You rebuild everything and minimize the amount of work you do on site which is so intriguing.

"With sea containers everything is steel so you have a better fire rating in the building as well," he said.

A shipping container on the construction site of Westgate Manor shows what the modules looked like before being turned into apartments. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

AJ Slivinski, a commercial real estate investor and property manager, has been wanting to construct a building out of shipping containers for years, but had trouble finding interested partners.

"A lot of them weren't interested," said Slivinski. "They were so busy with Fort McMurray growth and setting up camps, so they didn't want to get into residential space."

Slivinski, with Step Ahead Properties, cites reuse of materials, quick construction, cheaper financing and less disruption as advantages over traditional materials.

A typical wood frame apartment would take close to a year to build. He expects this one to be done in three months.

"This is an infill site. We didn't want to disturb other neighbours or at least keep it down to a minimum and this type of construction alleviates that," he said.

The one- and two-bedroom suites will be available for rent in August and are expected to rent for a little more than $1,000.

Slivinski is looking for more property and to build higher than three floors on his next project.

"We have looked at going higher because, as we move more and more towards the downtown, to make the projects commercially viable you need to go up."

In October, an Edmonton company opened show homes made of shipping containers.

Ladacor Advanced Modular Systems, the same company constructing Westgate Manor, also built a 60-room hotel in Bruderheim.