Robert Ferrara and Blue Oak Development are thinking inside the box on a new retail development concept in Avondale.
They are planning a $4.3 million project called Box Row Avondale that is made entirely of shipping containers that will be used to house boutiques, cafes, restaurants and galleries. The development will be located on the site of the former Star Motel on Third Avenue South, across from Wasabi Juan’s and around the corner from Avondale Brewery, Saw’s Soul Kitchen and other hot spots.
“This is designed to launch new business concepts, and also to bring existing businesses to the Avondale area,” Blue Oak Development Principal Ferrara said.
It is the first ground-up project from the firm, which started this year. The anticipated completion date is in fall 2016.
“The interest (from potential tenants) so far has been outstanding,” Ferrara said.
Ferrara said the idea is heavily influenced by the Box Park shops in London.
“We will have 12 office spots and 36 potential retails spots available. It will be simple pricing for all of our tenants,” Ferrara said.
Small box rates start at $800 per month, large boxes at $1,200 per month, and restaurant boxes with kitchen space start at $1,600 per month. Leases are all inclusive and include easy setup. The containers can be combined to create larger spaces.
“It’s designed to make setting up shop as easy as possible,” Ferrara said.
Ferrara said Box Row will be a modern concept for retailers to have a physical store that can also serve as a showroom for online sales without it hurting the bottom line as much.
He said the ongoing revitalization in Avondale as well as in nearby Lakeview and downtown Birmingham was a big reason for the decision to invest in a retail project now.
“There are so many multifamily units coming on line nearby that we think there is an opportunity to provide a community space for those people,” Ferrara said.
Ferrara lives in Avondale and said he’s seen it grow in the last five years, and realized that there was a need for a new retail product.