By Ted Stratigos – Avison Young                                                                       Photo: Warehouse Conversion
CIBS Board Member 2018                                                                                   Source:

Adaptive reuse projects take many forms; however, in its simplest definition, adaptive reuse is the redevelopment of a functionally, or financially, obsolete real estate property into a newer and better use. Every city in the U.S. and many other parts of the world has its own examples of successful transformations of older, obsolete structures into creative, viable alternative-use projects. With this increasing trend, especially in parts of western Long Island where vacant and developable land is scarce, many cities and communities welcome these transformations as they usually spread to other buildings and public spaces, often revitalizing an entire area.

Rather than tearing down and starting from scratch, repurposing and reusing existing buildings is often the best option. Adaptive reuse projects offer many advantages to communities, residents, occupants and developers. Developers are able to recycle, or breathe new life into, an otherwise old and obsolete structure.

Perhaps the best example of this trend in the New York area is the borough-wide transformation of Brooklyn, which is still going strong as of this report. The growing demand for live-work-play lifestyles on Long Island has triggered the transformation of an area long utilized for industrial, manufacturing and distribution into retail, office and multi-residential properties.

There are many issues to consider when planning and working on an adaptive reuse project. These issues can include; zoning and financial considerations, physical attributes and structural impediments, layout and floor-plan considerations, among other factors. Mechanical and architectural obsolescence is inherent in many older buildings. The project must be feasible based on the current or anticipated changes to future zoning codes. In most cases, a rezone or, at the very least, a zoning variance will be required to obtain approvals.

As our Long Island communities mature and as technology continues to advance, there will always be a need to consider the reutilization of properties. Much like spring, which is a renewing, rejuvenating force in nature, adaptive reuse of older projects can revitalize a building, a community and even a city. What was once obsolete will become new and relevant again, answering the needs of today’s businesses and people alike.