It's hard to say whether this project is out-of-the-box or in-the-box.
Shel Kimen, who moved to Detroit from New York, wants to build a 36-room boutique hotel out of shipping crates in the city's Eastern Market neighborhood by early 2014. The venture is called Collision Works. Kimen, a former senior vice president of digital strategy for the New York-based advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi, is its founder and CEO.
She envisions the hotel as a place where travelers and locals can gather to share art and stories. The concept has attracted some notice, including high praise from Greg Oates, an editor with the travel blog 200rooms. He wrote that the proposed hotel is "is dialed into both the mindset of today’s traveling public and socio-economic themes of this era" -- and also that it's "the most important hotel in America."
It's an ambitious plan, but to get there she's starting small -- with a prototype called First Container that she hopes to set up next month at Eastern Market with the help of the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. The prototype project is also getting support from a talented crew of local individuals, including Eastern Market President Dan Carmody and Addie Langford of TechShop Detroit.
First Container would serve as a small pop-up model of the larger project, functioning as a mini hotel lobby with a table, couches and free internet. It would be built out of two eight-by-forty-foot containers and located on the corner of Russell and Wilkins Street, not far from the planned site for the completed hotel. During its six-month run, Kimen plans to use the space to host discussions on topics like art, science, design and neighborhoods. Afterwards, the pop-up will be moved to the Collision Works site to become part of the hotel's lobby.
UPDATE: April 19 -- Collision Works has raised the $37,000 Kickstarter goal it had set for its First Container shipping crate pop-up at Eastern Market in Detroit. As of 1 p.m., Friday, April 19, the organization had received $43,758 in pledges from 412 backers, with seven hours still left to go before the drive officially ends. In order to receive funding, a Kickstarter project must reach its goal before a pre-set deadline.