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Environmental Concerns Lead to Rise in Adaptive Reuse Projects

(Credit: Chesapeake Commons)

As concern over the environment grows in sprawling urban areas, adaptive reuse – in this case, the repurposing of old commercial buildings to apartments — is on the rise; in the past decade, nearly 800 factories, hotels and other buildings have been converted to apartments, according to a report from RentCafe.

Over the past 70 years, nearly 2,000 old buildings have been converted into apartments. Chicago is the city with the most adaptive reuse apartment buildings (91), while New York City leads with the most apartment units (approximately 18,500).

The most popular type of commercial structures to be turned into apartments changes over time. Factories are the most popular building type to be converted into rentals overall. Office-to-apartment conversions were the most popular in the 2010s, compared to hotels, which were the most popular in the 1950s, according to the study. Other conversions include breweries, movie theaters, subway terminals, department stores, churches, courthouses, schools, and at least one funeral home, according to the study.

Sixty-five percent of these adaptive reuse projects are aimed at middle and lower-income renters.

In addition to concerns over the environment, a lack of space and housing shortages are driving commercial-to-apartment conversions.

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