Adaptive Re-use

Mike Moloney, President

Adaptive re-use is changing the use of the building, but keeping the basic structure intact. Adaptive reuse may be as simple as a changing a single tenant office space to multiple tenants, such as office “suites”. 

Or it can be more extensive. For example, taking an empty big box of a closed supermarket or department store, gutting the interior, and building out offices, or a “mini-mall”.

Adaptive reuse can run headlong into a real obstacle: the City or County. You have to get a Special Use permit or re-zoning for any change in use. It may trigger additional parking or a design review, either of which can end up costing a lot of money. 

The City can simply turn down the change of use request. A turn-down usually is the result of opposition from the neighbors. An example would be changing a neighborhood family restaurant into a bar, which is likely to generate neighborhood opposition. Another example that might generate opposition would be changing a small apartment complex into a half-way house or a drug rehab center.

You have to be creative and use your ingenuity to come up with the concept for adaptive re-use. A closed furniture store that has a large loading area in the back might become an auto interior re-build center.

One suggestion of a place where you might get some help: your local economic development office. That office may have some creative ideas, and often can also shepherd the special use permits, or advise you on how to work with the neighbors.

Architects are creative folks. They often can help you come up with workable ideas. They also may be able to assist in the permitting process.


More next Friday, Jan. 22.