Small Box creates big opportunities

We want to grow retail in downtown Cleveland and create a unique marketplace in the Warehouse District.  Small Box is a local retail development initiative between the Warehouse District Development Corporation and Cleveland Container  Structures that will upcycle used shipping containers into small & affordable retail shops on stark parking lots in the District.


Small Box is collaboration between the Historic Warehouse District Development Corporation (HWD) and Cleveland Container Structures (CCS). The Small Box initiative is a dynamic, economic development project. By putting active “Small Box” retail between busy sidewalks and unfriendly parking lots, our project will improve the quality of the neighborhood’s public realm, which has been a long-time priority for the HWD. There is also the intent and hope that this development with attract larger private investment.

This past fall the HWD applied for an Enterprise Community Partners grant to drum-up seed money for Small Box. The initiative was later selected as a finalist for their Nurture an Idea Award and Crowdrise Challenge, an associated crowd-funding contest for qualifying organizations wanting to implement an innovative community development concept. After a valiant and coordinated effort over four short weeks HWD, CCS and its respective social media networks assembled more than $19,000 in donations, winning the Challenge, its $10,000 prize as well as the matching Nurture an Idea Award $10,000 grant!

The nearly $40,000 in seed money raised for this project could not have been possible without the numerous donors and supporters including Enterprise Community Partners, Neighborhood Cleveland Progress, Ohio Savings Bank, Historic Warehouse District Development Team (Staff & Board), Sixth City Studio, The Sounding Board of Directors and the media professionals at The Plain Dealer, Crain’s Cleveland Business, WKYC, and

Thank you and stay tuned for Small Box retail in the HWD!

Here’s some shipping container retail projects in other cities that have inspired us:

Here’s our vision for the Small Box retail project in the Warehouse District:

Small Box project details:


Our goal is to launch the project with at least 3-5 retailers, which would create a critical mass of stores. This unique marketplace would serve as an attraction to visitors from all over the region and compliment the great businesses we already have in the Warehouse District.


Small box will offer 8′ x 20′ (160 sf) retail spaces that are divisible and customizable.  These small spaces offer a manageable storefront, allowing retailers to focus on developing a customer base and sustaining their business.


A final location has not yet been determined, but it is anticipated the project will be placed on the edge of a surface parking lot on St. Clair Avenue, between West 3rd and West 6th Streets. The idea is to create a “building edge” by lining the shipping containers along the edge of the parking lot at the sidewalk.