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Trending - Repurposing Industrial Buildings

Repurposing industrial buildings. A blue industrial garage and building.


Technology is responsible for much of the changes in the commercial real estate market today. What has been considered wasted space is now becoming the burgeoning entertainment and business districts that revitalize entire communities. From data centers to mixed-use apartment spaces, industrial buildings are being repurposed in the following three ways.

1. New Work Spaces
Approximately one-third of the workforce worked from home in 2017. Even workers who still go to an office during the week are finding employers that cater to a much more flexible work style that benefits both the employees and the employer. For example, flex office space is saving business startups thousands of dollars a month on office space. By sharing a lease with a neighboring business, expenses are cut and agility is increased for the employer. For employees, it means more remote work opportunities and more casual work environments.

In addition to these trends, the cloud has created the need for large data centers to house the servers that support the cloud. Because data centers use a lot of electricity, generate enormous amounts of heat, and rely on city infrastructure to operate, the industrial warehouses of old are proving ideal for expanding networks.

2. Creative Multifamily Housing
Across the country, industrial spaces are catering to multiple tastes from the current housing market. For starters, the past several years have seen a resurgence in the demand for urban housing. Instead of moving to the suburbs as soon as they get their degrees, millennials and gen-Xers are looking for more centrally located housing.

Industrial buildings that once housed assembly lines in auto plants or industrial-size ovens for bakeries are being converted into creative multifamily housing. A recent trend in interior design actually plays to the industrial look with steel beams and large industrial windows being incorporated into the décor. Developers are snatching up these properties and finding many new ways to organize multifamily design around these new booming city centers. Industrial space is cheaper and conveniently located near transportation, retail, grocery stores, and jobs.

3. Mixed-Use Urban Spaces
Business districts that combine work and life are popping up everywhere as developers create mixed-use spaces in urban areas. The Urban Land Institute reported that a nearly 150-year-old brewery that was shuttered more than a decade and a half ago is now the site of 430 new apartment buildings, a 146-room hotel, restaurants, and 50,000 square feet of retail space and more.

In Columbus, a century-old glassworks factory that spanned more than 105,000 square feet has been turned into an artists’ haven. Sited in a neighborhood that was sorely in need of revitalization, the former industrial space is complete with restaurants, a farmer’s market, bars, artist studios and performance space, plus living space, retail, and office coworking space.

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