Adaptive reuse of a vacant building is a smart community choice for sustainable development. If you aren't acquainted with this phrase, it describes finding a new purpose for a building rather its original use--or the one everyone remembers. A new land use that has more market demand is chosen and developed.
Building reuse is a simple idea for community improvement, but one that has huge potential to reduce the carbon footprint and solid waste inherent in building demolition and new construction.
If people need to be convinced, we can refer you to an online calculator for the energy cost of tearing down buildings, as compared to what is known as embedded energy found in existing buildings.
That doesn't mean you won't have to sell the idea that what everyone remembers as a service station could become a restaurant. Change threatens all but the best in us.
But on this page, let's be more detailed and have fun learning by example what your problem vacant building can become. Here are some specific adaptive reuse suggestions grouped by categories.
Old schools can become:
Social service buildings (sometimes with gym remaining),
Private residences if they are one-room rural schools,
University classrooms, or
Old factories are prime for:
Apartments or condominiums,
Economic development incubator,
Employment and training complexes,
Shopping centers, or maybe
Gyms, basketball or handball courts.
Replaced power plants have reopened as:
Art museums or
Old gasoline stations, with gas tanks removed as required by law, could become:
Oil change stores,
Auto repair garages,
Garden centers, or
Private residences, in rural areas especially.
Adaptive reuse of old mills might yield:
Vocational education classrooms
Old motels may resurface as:
Day care centers,
"Dead malls" or defunct shopping centers have possibilities as:
Apartments and condominiums,
Nursing homes, or
Parks, sometimes with conservation areas or trails incorporated.
Adaptive reuse of old churches can produce:
Nonprofit organization headquarters, or
Musical performance spaces, if no new congregation can be located.
Old downtown stores make great new:
Day care for children or adults,
New church start-ups, or
Economic development incubators or business accelerators.
Old train stations or depots often open again as:
Model railroading clubhouses,
Antique stores, or
Former libraries regain their composure as:
Private residences in small towns, or
Old post offices may be re-purposed as:
Veterinary clinics, or
Homes in small towns.
Old grocery stores commonly become:
Ski or surf shops,
Old banks would be great as:
Old mansions can be reused as:
Party facilities for rent,
City halls, or
Non-profit organization headquarters.
Old airports and military bases are splendid:
Redevelopments as complete communities,
Local or state government buildings, or
Old colleges can graduate into:
Museum and park complexes,
Redevelopment as complete communities,
Large nonprofit organization homes, or
Old barns and agricultural buildings have been reopened as:
Vacation compounds for extended family,
Rental space for high-end hobbies (fancy cars and such), or
Former prisons have been re-purposed as:
Parks or golf courses
Arts facilities, ranging from performance venues to artist live-work spaces
Under an adaptive reuse initiative, cotton gins, tobacco barns, pole barns may become:
Park pavilions, or
With walls added or repaired, offices, artists lofts, manufacturing, flea markets.