Adaptive Reuse Ain’t Just for Old Factories

You know that suburban office park that’s been sitting there 50% vacant for the last few years? That might be your next mixed-use residential redevelopment. From the Wall Street Journal:

Developers adding housing to the former the Readers Digest headquarters in Chappaqua, N.Y., ran into years of resistance before breaking ground on the redevelopment last year. PHOTO: SUMMIT DEVELOPMENT Source: Wall Street Journal

Many of these developers also are looking at ways they can create downtown-style districts with a mix of office and retail. But these can be tougher sells as employers flock from these types of office campuses to downtowns and suburban shopping centers get clobbered by online retail.

Some of these master-planned developments have also been criticized for having an ersatz quality similar to the faux city in the 1998 movie “The Truman Show.” Even the best ones can’t match the vibrancy of a thriving downtown.

But suburban developments have popular downtowns licked when it comes to affordable housing, something that is in scarce supply in New York, Boston, San Francisco and other cities. The housing crisis in cities has become “suburbia’s opportunity to participate in the new urban movement,” said Jonathan Miller, chief executive of Miller Samuel Inc., a real-estate appraisal firm.