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Fisk University is turning to shipping containers to help house their students

Fisk University Shipping Containers
Posted at 4:26 PM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-08 21:15:17-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Five years ago, Fisk University only had about 620 students on campus. But now, that number has nearly doubled to well over 1,000 students and counting.

"We crafted these corporate partnerships that really served as pipeline programs," said Jens Frederiksen, executive vice president for Fisk University.

Maybe it's those partnerships? Maybe it's a surge of excitement for HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)?

Whatever the reason, Fisk University is truly in the middle of a moment.

"The word sort of around town becomes if you do the right thing — and you focus and you see college as the platform for incredible success — then Fisk is the place for you," said Frederiksen.

But now comes the hard part: where do you house all of these new students in a city where rent is already sky-high?

Frederiksen said they've already broken ground on a traditional-style dorm, which will help once it's ready to open. But that 300-bed dorm won't be online for several more years, and they need student housing now. That's why Fisk is tearing a page out of the "New Nashville" playbook to ensure students have a place to live.

The university is working on converting old shipping containers into 100 new micro apartments for students. At first, even Frederiksen was skeptical.

"'I remember thinking containers? And then actually going to see them and sort of like, okay these are micro apartments," he said.

Showing off the renderings got so much positive feedback from students, what Frederiksen initially considered to be a temporary housing option may indeed become permanent.

"What the containers will also allow us to do is free up some opportunity to tackle some of the dorms that do just need major renovations that can’t be done in the summer -- because you need eight-10 months to do it properly," said Frederiksen.

The shipping containers are expected to be move-in ready by fall 2023. The traditional dorms are expected to open in fall 2024.