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.


Country’s Oldest Mall Now Features Apartments

How’s this for a cool adaptive reuse of a property?

The Providence Arcade is the oldest shopping mall in America, but now has a whole new purpose. Although it was bankrupted and abandoned for quite some time, this National Historic Landmark is open for business once more. However, now the mall sells only one thing – adorable tiny homes!

Developer Evan Granoff bought the property in 2005, with the hopes that he could restore the beautiful building to its former glory. And he did exactly that! He converted the upper levels into 48 tiny apartment homes, while the lower promenade is reserved for boutique shops. No major chain stores are allowed here! The smallest units only cost $550 per month, which is a steal for downtown Providence, Rhode Island.

GMAC Site Redevelopment Will Include Apartments

Winston-Salem is about to get a new mixed-use development in an old(ish) building. From the Triad Business Journal:

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines announced Thursday that local business leader Don Flow and Charlotte-based developer Grubb Properties will redevelop the former GMAC building and an adjacent site extending to Fourth Street into a business center with retail spaces and apartments.

Flow will buy the 18-story GMAC building, to which he plans to relocate all Flow Companies corporate services that are currently housed at locations throughout North Carolina and Virginia. The primary focus of the remaining floors of the building will be on attracting start-up and early-stage growth companies by offering extremely affordable space, officials said…

In a second project, Grubb will develop a $48 million residential and retail project on the site just south of the tower, including the surface parking lot. The project will include 240 residential units and storefronts along Fourth Street.

Grubb has committed to making 30 percent of the housing units affordable to working people, the city said...

The affordable housing units will be set aside for people making no more than 110 percent of area median household income. Assistant City Manager Derwick Paige said that median household income here changes over time but tends to hover around $40,500. That would put the maximum income for the affordable units at close to $44,550.

Office Parks Reimagined As Walkable Communities

Developers are beginning to see suburban office parks as an opportunity to create urban-style communities. From the Wall Street Journal:

The latest example is in Minnetonka, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis. There, Roers Investments LLC and CPM Cos. want to demolish two vacant warehouses to build a 274-unit luxury-apartment project in the middle of the 600-acre Opus II Business Park.

The $62 million development, which will include a fitness center, rooftop patio, fire pit and underground, heated parking, will feature apartments with monthly rents that range from $1,155 for a studio to $2,520 for a two-bedroom unit.

Adding apartments to corporate parks has numerous advantages for developers, according to Maureen McAvey, a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington. First, most corporate parks are owned by a single entity, making it easier for developers to aggregate the parcels needed to build. With land increasingly scarce in urban and suburban locations, business parks have an abundance of underused space. Corporate parks also usually have easy access to major highways and mass transit, as well as infrastructure such as roads and utilities, which make redevelopment easier and less expensive.

And converting corporate parks into walkable communities helps increase the property value:

Walkability adds value, even to commercial properties. According to data firm Real Capital Analytics, prices for properties in central business districts have risen 125% over the past decade, but suburban properties that are also considered highly walkable are up 43%. Comparatively, prices are up just 21% to 22% for properties in suburban locations that are somewhat walkable or car-dependent.

Process Begins for Conversion of Old Gibsonville Elementary to Apartments

From a story in the Burlington Times News we get a little background on the planned conversion of Old Gibsonville Elementary to apartments :

Richard Angino, owner and managing member of Third Wave Housing in Winston-Salem, said there will be a lot of paperwork to get through before there will be anything but cleanup in the empty school.

Most important will be the nine-month process of getting the building listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

That makes the building eligible for 20 percent state and 20 percent federal tax credits, according to Preservation North Carolina, the private nonprofit statewide historic preservation organization helping to put this project together…

The old school at 500 Church St. is one of the oldest buildings in Gibsonville and occupies a spot right in the middle of town. Almost everyone who grew up there has a personal connection.

Guilford County Schools used the 40,386-square-foot building from 1923 until a new school came online in 2006. It has been empty since, and falling apart.

The old and new schools are side by side, so the school system wanted something done…

Angino said his rough estimate for the cost of project is $3 million to $4 million. 

Historic Mill in Graham to be Converted to 127-Unit Apartment Community

According to an article in the Burlington Times-News the Graham City Council has approved a rezoning for a historic mill site that will allow a developer to convert it to a 127-unit apartment community. From the article:

The property, at 219 W. Harden St., is a 6.8-acre plot surrounded by a variety of other residential, business and office-institutional zoning. The mill was begun in 1882, but has not operated as such for at least 15 years. The land is currently owned by Jay Burke Rentals…

Third Wave Housing of Winston-Salem is the contracted purchaser of the property and is planning to turn the vacant industrial site into “an adaptive reuse of the mill building into 127 rental apartments using the existing interior space.”

Speaking for Third Wave, Richard Angino said he has 20 years’ experience adapting old and historical buildings to modern use. He said his company has removed some of the façade along Harden Street and found the original material to be in good shape, along with original windows and trim. He called it a “remnant of history” deserving of being reused…

Initial plans call for the exterior façade to be refurbished to the 1910 era. There will be 91 one-bedroom apartments with 660-740 square feet and the remainder as two-bedroom units of 900-1,000 square feet and all with loft apartments with 14-foot ceilings. Estimated rents would be $500 to $750 per month, according to size…

Angino said there had been initial environmental assessments and would be more. He estimated the project would represent an $11-$13 million investment on property that is valued on the tax books now at about $700,000.