Urban Land Magazine
By: August Williams-Eynon
June 29th, 2020
In dense urban markets, repurposing existing buildings offers a sometimes-hidden opportunity to unlock enormous value while drastically reducing the environmental impact of construction.
In the recent ULI webinar titled Breathing New Life into Old Bones, part of the 2020 ULI Spring Meeting Webinar Series, four experts in design, development, and sustainability explored the opportunities and challenges inherent in repositioning buildings.
Working creatively with zoning, floor/area ratios, public incentives, and financing is key to making these projects possible. Making them successful often requires finding the design elements within the project that tell a story, creating a strong narrative for brand authenticity and reflecting the community character and history of the building.
“We often find [that older buildings] have inherent structural flexibility to adapt to multiple use types, and there is a historic narrative that establishes sense of place and character that creates value. There’s also an embedded sustainability to using existing buildings and shells,” says Matt Stephenson, associate principal with Woods Bagot Architects.
The design, planning, and construction challenges to renovating older buildings can be complex, but value can be created by upgrading buildings from lower-income-generating uses (light industrial, manufacturing, storage, shipping) to higher-income-generating uses like residential, office, retail, or hospitality, according to Jeremy Plofker, vice president of Madison Realty Capital. “Often, the most value that can be created from an asset [comes from] combining higher-income uses with each other or with lower-income uses,” Plofker says.
The panelists presented four case studies of projects that had transformed older office, hospitality, industrial, or storage buildings to mixed-use, residential, or commercial uses with high-value amenities, rents, and energy cost savings that provided the returns needed to make the projects work.
A 1912 Manhattan office building originally inhabited by the Emigrant National Savings Bank and then by New York City government offices, 49 Chambers was converted… read the full article here.