Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 | 2 a.m.
In a 63,000-square-foot building mostly overlooked by commuters who pass it every day on the Spaghetti Bowl’s flyover, a small manufacturer is growing larger with the help of business coming from the East Fremont Container Park.
Xtreme Manufacturing, the brainchild of Don Ahern, who also owns Ahern Rentals, employs nearly 100 welders, carpenters and others to create spacious “cubes.”
The structures they make typically are constructed for mining, oil and gas extraction sites, but the Downtown Project came up with plans to turn them into taverns and retail outlets downtown in the coming Container Park at Seventh and Fremont streets.
In fact, more of the park will now be cubes than shipping containers — the original plan was to turn containers seen atop semitrailers or trains into businesses, said Keith Glynn, Downtown Project construction manager. Glynn said plans were slightly altered after learning about Xtreme Manufacturing, which is near downtown at Bonanza Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
The cubes aren’t cheaper per square foot than regular construction, said Brandon Main, cube division vice president, but they are incredibly durable, are constructed faster and can be in place quicker than buildings constructed on-site.
They are made of metal, some with an exterior ceramic coating and foam inside the walls for insulation. Sizes vary, though most are 8 to 12 feet wide, 10 feet high and 10 to 24 feet long. They are similar in size though roughly 2 feet taller than tractor-trailer storage containers.
The Downtown Project will own the containers and lease the space to tenants, as in most any mall.
The first of the cubes — to house men's and women’s bathrooms — are expected to be hauled to the site within weeks, Main said. As the other cubes are retrofitted with necessary plumbing and electrical outlets, they will be carted to the site, plugged into utilities and dolled up according to final plans.
Meanwhile, Main said, Xtreme Manufacturing sees an opportunity to use its experience with the Container Park to add retail-type construction to its catalog of cube uses.
Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown; he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.