Jon Mark Beilue: WTAMU Student Turns Shipping Containers Into Apartments

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Jon Mark Beilue Nov 01, 2018
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WTAMU Student Turns Shipping Containers Into Apartments

'People are going to think I'm crazy'


Enrique Munoz got to know Remmington Holt last year in a Spanish class at West Texas A&M University. Holt is in his 30s. With age often comes wisdom, but also some risk-taking.

“One day in class, he said, ‘Man, I got this wild idea,’” said Munoz. “And I said, ‘What’s that?’ And he said, ‘People are going to think I’m crazy.’”

In Spanish class, that would be loco. When Holt told him his wild idea, Munoz was not one of those people. In fact, he loved it.

“I thought it was a great idea,” Munoz said. “I said, ‘How can I help you?’”

A year later, Holt is the owner, and Munoz the manager of Buffs Boarding Bungalows and RV Park. Located off Farm to Market Road 2219 on Ute Trail about halfway between Canyon and Amarillo, this isn’t your traditional RV park.

On the 10 acres Holt bought last December, of which five acres are currently developed, are three shipping containers. These shipping containers have been converted into 320-square feet of apartment living. It’s catered to WT students, particularly those who are ag students and may have horses.

“It’s hard to wrap your head around it until you see it,” Holt said.

That it is. Then you step inside of one of Holt’s shipping-containers-turned-apartments, and, well, it’s an amazing transformation.

“You tell someone it’s shipping container living, and they say, ‘That sounds terrible,’” Holt said. “Then they see it and there’s not one negative thing to say.”

At Buff Bungalows, things are just now getting going. Holt had 10 available spots – seven for RVs, and three for converted containers.  There are three RV tenants, and as of Thursday, all three containers will have renters with two expected to move in and sign a lease by the first of November.

“There’s way more room in one than any camper,” said Munoz, an ag education major from San Angelo, who lives in a camper on site. “It’s pretty cool. I’d live in one definitely.”

Holt purchases the containers, which are 8 feet by 40 feet, from Xcalibur Containers out of Graham, Texas, 60 miles south of Wichita Falls. Xcalibur adds a door and windows to Holt’s specification, and then, he takes it from there.

Step through the door and to the left, behind a sliding rustic barn-style door, is a bathroom with vanity and glassed-in shower. It’s not compact.

“I’m a big guy,” Holt said, “and there’s nothing worse than being in an RV and not being able to turn around in the bathroom.”

Outside the bathroom is the kitchen portion with a refrigerator, stove/oven, sink, nice countertops and ample cabinets. On the opposite wall is a narrow wooden built-in table and two stools.

A few feet beyond is a built-in couch with a smart TV on the wall with free Wi-Fi and Netflix. Then in the far end is the bedroom with a full-sized bed frame with baskets and hanging rods for clothes.

The flooring is the original, similar to an outside deck, but painted. As for heating/cooling, there’s a unit just above the couch, a multi-split variable speed heating/cooling unit that Holt said is big in Europe. It’s operated by a remote and quiet.

“Everything is furnished except for a mattress,” Holt said. “We try to accommodate everybody. The biggest thing we keep hearing is how roomy it is.”

The units are $650 a month, plus electricity, which Holt said should be modest. There’s a free laundromat. The park is gated with security cameras.

Where does someone get the idea to turn shipping containers into living quarters? Offices, yes, they’ve been turned into offices, but apartments?

“Everybody laughs,” Holt said, “but Pinterest.”

But Holt has a vision—based on two major developments at WT that he believes will make for more ag students and demand for rural accommodations. The first was the announcement in November 2017 of the largest gift in WT’s 107-year history—$1 million annually for at least the next 80 years from the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation earmarked for the colleges of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, and Business, which both now bear the Engler name.

The second was the opening this past September of the $48 million Agricultural Sciences Complex, more than 150,000 square feet of classrooms and research areas that should be a draw to ag students across a multi-state region as well as Texas.

“I thought, ‘Man, I think the equine program is really going to grow at WT,’” Holt said. “There should be a demand for a place to keep your horses and then be right next to them as well.”

So, in addition to Buff Bungalows, on the same property will be 16 stalls for horses. Four of them are completed.

Holt, a native of Plainview, is not a typical third-year student in plant, soil and environmental sciences. He is full of life experiences. He was in the Navy for five years and was an inspector at Bell Helicopter for eight.

Currently, he’s a licensed irrigator and owns a landscaping company, Amarillo Land Services. Wife Haley, a WT graduate, is an Amarillo elementary school teacher. They have known the pain of losing a son, but have two daughters, Quiersten, 7, and Saylor, 14 months.

Taking 13 semester hours, owning a landscaping business and keeping an eye on Buff Bungalows, he’d like to have more than 24 hours in a day.

“It’s been a lot of work because we’re trying to do this the right way,” Holt said, “but so far, I’m tickled.”

As Munoz said, “It will change the way you look at living accommodations. It’s quiet, and it’s in the country. But it’s halfway between Amarillo and Canyon. We’re eight minutes from campus and eight minutes from Whataburger. You can’t beat that.”

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