Project Background

Building the Detroit Holiday Village pop-up container retail huts was an exciting project for the ROXBOX team. We worked with Groundswell Design Group out of Philadelphia on the fabrication of these units, which were installed in Groundswell’s festive and seasonal community activation. Groundswell is a full-service design firm that specializes in placemaking, hospitality and public space projects and it was an awesome opportunity getting to team up with them on such a special project. Groundswell led the design of the holiday village/retail suites and ROXBOX manufactured the units in our Denver facility and delivered them to Detroit.

The Detroit Holiday Village is an annual holiday experience set up by Bedrock Detroit and the Rocket Community Fund and is in its fifth consecutive year spearheaded by Groundswell Design Group. To welcome in the winter season and bring the holiday spirit to the city of Detroit, Bedrock/RCF had Groundswell Design Group set up a winter wonderland in Cadillac Square in the city’s center during the holiday season. The village consists of an outdoor marketplace featuring a variety of local Detroit retailers. As part of Bedrock and the Quicken Loans Community Fund’s mission to support the local entrepreneurial community, each business featured in the holiday market is Detroit-based, female-owned or minority-owned. Merchandise ranging from locally inspired streetwear and artwork to delicious treats and Michigan staple dishes provides all attendees a sampling of Detroit’s unique culture.

The pop-up retail units serve as the centerpiece in the village. In past years the retail suites were built from greenhouses, but Groundswell wanted to take their design a step further this year and really wow both the guests and business owners while creating an iconic community space in the heart of Detroit.

For this project, we opted to build steel-framed modular units from the ground up vs. upcycling shipping containers which led to some issues that we eagerly resolved. From difficulties in the supply chain, to difficulties on site – the ROXBOX team had numerous hurdles that we worked nights and weekends to navigate… When our team commits to a job and a timeline, we deliver. In the end, this project presented the ROXBOX team with many challenges that we had to overcome and we are thrilled with the final result!

The units will also be re-deployed yearly with different activations and use-cases outside the holiday market (ie. co-working spaces, farmer’s markets, small-business incubation hubs, etc).

Specs & Modifications

  • (4) 40’L x 10’W, (2) 20’L x 10’W, (2) 10’L x 10’W custom-built steel-framed modular structures with a custom wall panel system, demising walls, sloped roof, and transom windows.
  • Custom glass storefront windows
  • Custom glass dutch-doors
  • Built-out interior w/ framing, insulation, and finished Baltic birch walls
  • Electrical & lights
  • HVAC with heating
  • High-end vinyl flooring
  • Black exterior paint and exterior wood cladding

Each 40’ structure is divided into 3 retail spaces, the 20’ units house 2 retail spaces, and the 10’ units are used for admin spaces and hot cocoa + pre-packaged food.


The Detroit Holiday Village is located in Cadillac Square in Detroit’s city center. Surrounded by some of Detroit’s most iconic buildings and located across the street from the city’s 50 foot tall Christmas tree and ice skating rink, the downtown village is the perfect holiday activity for people of all ages!


Since Groundswell led the design and permitting of the project, we were able to skip Phase 1 (Planning + Design) for these temporary/mobile structures. We worked collaboratively with Groundswell to refine their drawings and produce detailed shop drawings in Phase 2 for client and permit approval. We then jumped right to Phase 3 (Production + Construction) in order to meet the project’s aggressive timeline – the holidays don’t wait for anyone! The production of the units took 9 weeks and pushed our team to the limit. ROXBOX coordinated delivery which required oversized load permits and coordination with the city to shut down roads in downtown Detroit, in conjunction with offloading via a crane to place the units in Cadillac Square.

Project Development

Construction of the retail huts in ROXBOX's Denver facility
Delivery & installation
Completed project photos
Bird's eye view of the Detroit Holiday Village in Detroit's Cadillac Square.
Photo of the inside of one of the 40' unit retail spaces.

Next time you’re in Detroit during the holidays, make sure to swing by our custom-built units and support local businesses.

If you are interested in learning more about the Detroit Holiday Village retail huts or any of our other product lines of container modifications, click here to contact our team or visit our homepage for unique container building ideas