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What is Adaptive Reuse?

January 26, 2021

Have you ever visited a restaurant or local attraction that boasts about their buildings’ historical relevance or original purpose? You probably visited a building that had undergone adaptive reuse. Adaptive reuse is the process of taking an old building or site and reusing it for a purpose other than it was designed: for example, an old shipping facility getting converted into a food hall, or a former rooming house becoming modern office space.

The adaptive reuse process allows a building to begin anew while still highlighting its original structure and aesthetic features. Rather than prioritizing new and updated construction, adaptive reuse keeps the history of our local community alive while giving new businesses space to thrive.

For Business Owners

If you’re on the hunt for a new local space to help your business grow, consider using adaptive reuse on a historic building in your community. Although it may seem more intimidating to purchase a building that needs restoration, it provides you with an opportunity to bring the past to life. Rather than renting different locations over the lifetime of your business and depending on a landlord, invest your money into a building your business can depend on. Adaptive reuse grants you the opportunity to station yourself into a unique, one-of-a-kind space your clients and customers will be eager to visit.

Historic buildings also come with their own tax benefits, providing assistance to business owners who choose to restore and reinvent their very own vintage spaces. Tapping into the historic rehabilitation tax credit grants a direct reduction in taxes for buyers and can range between 10-20 percent based on the building's age and location. Issued by the IRS and National Park service, this tax incentive program ensures buyers receive support for extra rehabilitation costs, and buildings are protected to maintain their historical value and appeal. According to the IRS, a business owner is entitled to this tax incentive if a building receives historical certification or was built before 1936.

On a local level, the city of St.Petersburg specifically recognizes buildings of historical, architectural and cultural significance providing owners with a flexible variety of uses when restoring their buildings.

For Developers

Adhering to strict zoning codes and city regulations can be difficult when working to restore a historic property. Developers are often faced with the potential demolition of their properties as dimensionally beneficial spaces, especially in residential areas, are few and far between. The good news is that many cities, like St. Petersburg, grant developers assistance when claiming a historical building for adaptive reuse. Working to protect the community’s history, city codes regarding historical renovations provide flexibility for proposed use, dimensional setbacks, design criteria and parking requirements in a way that significantly reduces the conflicts created by changing the use of an existing building.

Maintaining the historical bones of a building provides the local community with the opportunity to learn and engage with the city and its past. When a developer chooses to implement adaptive reuse over demolition, they are adding value to the community. As more historical buildings are saved and reused, locals and visitors from surrounding cities come together to explore and invest in the community, building the local economy and tourism. Rather than prioritizing quick fixes or modernized aesthetics, developers have the opportunity to redefine a building’s history and in turn, the community’s future.

For the Community

As communities expand and evolve, locals gravitate toward the historical roots of their city to give back and feel connected. Adaptive reuse provides local communities with spaces of gathering that provide more than the average hang out spot. Deeply connected to the city’s past, locals enjoy travelling back in time and supporting the new-found uses of the historical buildings around them. Take Armature Works in Tampa and Station House and The Collective in Downtown St. Petersburg, for example. Two grand communal spaces reinvented to become integral parts of their communities. Aside from providing new jobs and local experiences, these historical buildings are proof that an old-frame can adapt and be reused, and ultimately,  provide an opportunity for growth.

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