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Thursday, Nov 27, 2014
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Shipping container design keeps new Ferg’s mobile

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Published:   |   Updated: April 18, 2014 at 06:42 AM

Care to have a beer and brat in a shipping container down by the Forum?

Why not, said the owners of the new Ferg’s bar/restaurant that’s under construction on Channelside Drive. This is Tampa, and the port is a huge part of the city’s history and identity.

So, with the concept of “Adaptive Re-use” one of the hottest themes in architecture, the new Ferg’s location on Channelside Drive will have actual shipping containers making up much of the structure, and the entire bar complex will be portable if the Channel District blossoms, as many believe it will.

The former Luxury Box restaurant structure will remain, and be remodeled, and then a ring of containers will encircle a 5,000 square foot patio out back. One container will have rest rooms. Two will have windows cut into them to function as bars. Another shipping container will stand atop the stack, overlooking the patio, and with one side split open to form a stage for bands to play.

The containers are far more than a decorative choice, said Mark Ferguson, the patriarch of the original Ferg’s in St. Petersburg, and a partner in this project with the owners of Irish 31.

“We only have a three- to five-year lease, and Jeff Vinik has other plans for this property in the future,” Ferguson said, referring to the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning who has been purchasing land north of the Forum, where his team plays. “We didn’t want to build something that would just be torn down, so we are using containers that we can just pick up and move in five years.”

If all goes according to plan, the new site in Tampa may open in August, though fans of the Ferg’s ethos who want a preview can visit the construction site at 490 Channelside Drive whenever the Lightning are playing a home game during the current NHL playoffs. In a sense, the quirky design for the new space echoes the devil-may-care construction of the original Ferg’s by Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. That structure resembles something far different than a traditional building. Rather, it’s a kind of festive scrap pile of building parts, with re-used pieces of everything from construction sites to basketball court floors. On any given day, Ferguson can be seen nailing some new part to the wall of the bar to add to the decor.

Ferg’s thus joins a hot theme in restaurants trying the shipping container structure. Notably, Starbucks has an experimental prototype design for a cafe and drive-thru store that’s made up of stacked shipping containers — inspired by its home town of Seattle — that’s popping up in several U.S. cities, including Chicago and Salt Lake City.

Each of the Ferg’s containers will cost about $6,000, and builders will pick out fully insulated versions that would normally function as freezers to carry frozen goods across the ocean. That way, the builders can simply cut holes in the sides, an the structure will work as functioning workspace.

“These are amazingly durable,” Ferguson said. “You can stack them 40 high if you want. “This is a great location, and we’re expecting it will do well even on non-hockey and non-concert nights ... And when we need, we can just pick them up and move.”

rmullins@tampatrib.com

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