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Adaptive Reuse - Finding Users

  • 1.  Adaptive Reuse - Finding Users

    Posted 09-11-2018 11:00

    Researching Adaptive Reuse, we find a lot of information about the types of buildings, types of uses, and funding strategies that have been used. What we have not been able to find is information about the process of determining whether the local market has need of any of the uses proposed. After that, the next step in the process would be to connect with potential users.  It's fairly easy to brainstorm possible uses for a building, and the romantic/exciting ones leave the feeling that the job is done! However, learning whether the local market "needs" and can sustain a proposed use and how to search for potential users is more elusive.

    Has anyone seen anything published about these steps? We have an adaptive reuse study for our property; it does not address these later steps. While we can guess to some extent – contact local realtors who specialize in local properties, undertake a business plan with a marketing study/plan component – my nonprofit would like to form an Adaptive Reuse Committee and it would be great to give them an article or printed information on the later steps. There is some discussion of updating our existing study. Are there consultants who specialize in adding the later steps? Thanks!

    Kathryn McCullough
    Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance
    Staatsburgh, NY


  • 2.  RE: Adaptive Reuse - Finding Users

    Posted 09-12-2018 08:24
    Kathryn this is a great question, and good point about our ability to identify and romanticize adaptive use options for a property.  We have a building that is owned by the city which is under major rehabilitation and recently put out a survey to ask for input on potential uses for the building.  We'd like to see a community use with a small commercial venture so there's a win win in terms of providing community access and generating income to maintain the building.  Getting to a full feasibility and market analysis seems a long ways off and with a time lag that information could be dated by the time we are ready for a tenant.  I am interested to see what responses come of your post!

    Jenny Wolfe
    Historic Preservation Officer
    City of St. Augustine
    St. Augustine FL

  • 3.  RE: Adaptive Reuse - Finding Users

    Posted 09-12-2018 10:53
    I tried to dig around our Forum resources to see what blogs posts we've had that may hit upon  your request. Hope some of these provide some insight:

    Colleen Danz
    Forum Marketing Manager
    National Trust for Historic Preservation
    Washington DC

  • 4.  RE: Adaptive Reuse - Finding Users

    Posted 09-19-2018 08:01
    Thank you Colleen!

    Kathryn McCullough
    Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance[Staatsburgh] NY

  • 5.  RE: Adaptive Reuse - Finding Users

    National Trust Advisor
    Posted 09-13-2018 08:54
    Please contact Patrice Fey at the National Main Street subsidiary of the National Trust. They teach a hands on course on this subject and have access to mountains of data and many “white elephant” rehabs. Also look at the NTCIC website, another subsidiary that invests in Historic Tax credits and New Markets Tax Credits, they have examples of large rehab projects.

    Curt Heidt
    Community Volunteer
    515 229 4948

  • 6.  RE: Adaptive Reuse - Finding Users

    Posted 09-13-2018 10:06
    Thank you Curt. These suggestions sound very useful. I'll follow up! Thanks again, kitty

    Kathryn McCullough
    Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance[Staatsburgh] NY

  • 7.  RE: Adaptive Reuse - Finding Users

    Posted 09-13-2018 12:21
    Hi Kathryn,

    The National Main Street Center definitely offers training on this topic. Specifically, the Main Street America Institute, our professional certification program, has a great in-person Community Transformation Workshop that trains attendees to address complex revitalization projects. Unfortunately, they are at capacity for the October workshop, but I would recommend it for next year! In the meantime, MSAI offers relevant online coursework throughout the year (learn more here). Plus, our annual Main Street Now Conference in Seattle in March will certainly have education sessions that speak to this issue.

    If you have any questions, please let us know!


    Tali Jamir
    Associate Manager of Member Engagement
    National Main Street Center, Inc.
    Chicago IL

  • 8.  RE: Adaptive Reuse - Finding Users

    Posted 09-16-2018 23:26
    Hi everyone,

    Given the interest in industrial heritage on the Forum this week, I thought folks might be interested to know about the “Making Places" program of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation. The program, funded by the State Historic Preservation Office, documented over 1,500 extant mill buildings and complexes, including vacant, underutilized, and distressed sites that may present opportunities for rehabilitation and re-use. Trust staff also created a website - - and a presentation (“Got Mill?,” which can be found on the website). At the same time, we were able to offer $339,000 to 9 projects over the course of a year, to fund planning and technical assistance. And there were some State Register nominations along the way, too.

    As you can imagine, this program has generated a lot of interest from developers and the general public. The Trust’s staff has conducted 59 site visits, made 250 development contacts, and hosted 1,200 attendees at various “Got Mill?" presentations. Hats off to Renée Tribert, who is now leading it into its next phase!

    Not every statewide/local group will have the support that the Trust did in developing this kind of program. But it may still be useful to know about, and parts might be taken. Feel free to be in touch directly for more information.

    Sara Bronin
    (Chair of the Connecticut Trust!)