Adaptive Reuse: What’s Old Is New Again

The real estate market moves in cycles. The Greatest Generation fled the cities for suburban developments with a patch of grass and four individual walls. Now that trend has been turned on its head. Americans of all ages and income levels want to live in communities with amenities and transportation close at hand. These areas tend to be urban, so how can the real estate industry create communities that meet the needs of a modern resident?

Many real estate developers are turning to adaptive reuse, which transforms structures that previously served one purpose into a building that performs another function. The mill buildings that once blighted the urban landscape are now being transformed into highly desirable properties across the nation.

While the trend isn’t new (San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square was converted in the 1960s), the trend is fully in vogue across the nation.

There are three things a developer should look for in an adaptive reuse project, according to Arthur Winn:

1. One aspect to consider is the floor plate of the existing building and how much square footage it is. Developers look at column placement, how the existing windows line up, and the window width and height from the floors. If all these logistics make sense, it leads to a great opportunity to create housing.

2. A location near the core of the city or town that will draw residents and also spark further amenity development.

3. Lastly, town or city leadership that is committed to revitalizing the community can be immensely beneficial in successfully completing an adaptive reuse project.