Over time, some real estate properties and developments become obsolete or perform poorly due to defective designs and concepts. Communities and local economies also change over time.
Redevelopment can be a tool to revitalize an area degraded by blight, environmental contamination, or land uses no longer appropriate for the community. However, effective redevelopment requires more than just land reclamation and reuse.
New Mixed-Use Development
New mixed-use development is an increasingly common way to redevelop older buildings and unused space in urban areas. These projects can add variety to residential areas, allowing both renters and homebuyers more options for housing.
In addition, these developments can support local economies and improve walkability, helping to sustain local jobs and attract more businesses. Reusing old properties can also help prevent urban sprawl’s economic and environmental costs.
Although new mixed-use development can have challenges, it has proven to be a key strategy in addressing many community challenges. Studies have shown that mixed-use development can increase economic opportunity, household wealth, and mobility and enhance neighborhood cultural diversity. However, it may also contribute to gentrification and increased property prices. In addition, it can be challenging to implement in jurisdictions where zoning and other laws segregate uses. Often, obtaining a variance or additional site-specific approval is required. It can create a challenge for developers, and planning and preparing to work with local stakeholders is essential. Real-estate investors like Peter Hungerford founder of PH Realty Capital, who view land as a fence against these difficulties, are more interested in putting their resources into troubled properties that are soon redeveloped.
Adaptive reuse is one of the fastest-growing forms of redevelopment in urban areas. It involves transforming a building from an obsolete use into something more appropriate for contemporary living.
This approach preserves architectural and cultural heritage, transforms urban blight, and ignites social change. It also has the potential to save energy and resources, create more vibrant communities, and contribute to economic vitality.
Its environmental benefits include lower embodied carbon, a calculation of emissions associated with the entire life-cycle of a building. It provides the energy required to extract raw materials, manufacture and transport the building, and construct, maintain, renovate and dispose of it.
However, adaptive reuse is only sometimes a viable option for some properties. A thorough assessment of a building should be performed to determine its feasibility for adaptation.
Infill development combines existing buildings with new construction to create mixed-use communities. It is a smart growth strategy that can curb urban sprawl, reduce reliance on vehicle transportation, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthen local economies.
For example, Denver recently developed Stapleton International Airport into a new mixed-use community with various housing options. This project was a great example of how infill can revitalize an area and increase its value.
Another type of redevelopment is greyfield redevelopment, which involves building new structures on old industrial or commercial sites. These sites are often underused and may have environmental issues.
Infill development can also be an effective way to increase residential options by creating more affordable housing, particularly in neighborhoods where small lots are difficult to purchase. It can be done by adding multifamily units on existing properties or building ADUs on undeveloped land.
Vacant Land Reuse
Vacant land is a common feature of the American landscape but can also be a community asset. Empty properties may be a primary cause of blight in many communities. Still, redevelopment can transform these unused areas into quality community open space that improves neighbors’ quality of life and reduces the negative impact on property values.
Across the country, communities are using vacant land creatively to build new parks and gardens that benefit neighborhoods. Whether they are designed as pocket parks, urban farms or a series of public art spaces, these green spaces can increase residents’ quality of life and improve their health and well-being.
The redevelopment of vacant land creatively is an essential part of a city’s overall sustainability plan. By transforming these properties into community assets, cities can improve the quality of their neighborhoods and provide residents with opportunities for economic development and employment.