Reduce, reuse, recycle doesn't just apply to plastic. The idea of repurposing underused buildings isn't new but has recently been resurged due to a swift shift in commercial real estate usage with the pandemic. The difference in demand between sectors led investors and developers to re-access how to best use their buildings to get the best return on their investment.
Repurposing unused/underused buildings requires less investment than constructing entirely new buildings — the fewer changes necessary, the less additional investment is needed. While some repurposing projects are easier than others, here are 5 of our favorite examples.
5. Bailey South
Winston-Salem, North Carolina's Bailey South was once a tobacco factory. Now, the mixed-use building consists of restaurants, retail space, offices, and 97% of the original building — they even kept the historic elevated railroad trestle that was meant to bring coal to the power plant.
Once a dry goods store, this award-winning project opened in 2008 with the same structural shell and many of the same materials but with a modern (and sustainable) twist. In the heart of Louisville, Kentucky's arts district, the Green Building houses an art gallery, offices, event spaces, conference rooms, and even a restaurant.
Fotografiska, a Stockholm-based photography museum, opened its first branch in New York City by transforming a six-story, former church mission home. The 1894 landmark debuted as a new photography museum in December 2019 with 3 floors of exhibition space, a restaurant and bar, lobby café, book store, and bar. The building's historical bones — the cast-iron steel structure and terracotta construction — were preserved and are highlighted/celebrated within the building.
The Momentary in Bentonville, Arkansas has 63,000 square feet of performance space, galleries, artist studios, kitchen, and an outdoor festival stage. What does this satellite to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art not have? Kraft cheese — at least not anymore. The former cheese factory turned into a contemporary art space for visual, performing, and culinary arts in 2020.
Shopaholics rejoice! If you've ever wanted to live in a department store, we have the perfect hotel for you. The Quirk Hotel in Richmond, Virginia is housed out of an old department store constructed in 1916. The vaulted ceiling and original staircase are still featured in the hotel and add to the quirkiness — the history of the original building is evident in the hotel, adding charm to your stay.
And of course, a very honorable mention to our own office building! The Textile Mill Supply Company Building was built in 1922 and contributed to Charlotte's historical presence in the textile industry of the 19th and 20th century. Now, it's the home of multiple offices including LoanBoss!
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