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  • Writer's pictureColliers | Columbus


Written by: Brooke Ferman and Gracie Criger

Brooke Ferman specializes in research capabilities, providing support for the Colliers | Columbus Office, Industrial and Retail Groups as a research analyst. She assists the marketing and research director on special projects and corporate initiatives. Gracie is a student at The University of Cincinnati studying Real Estate. She is currently interning with Colliers | Columbus on the research team. Keep reading for an overview on adaptive reuse.

Adaptive Reuse vs. Redevelopment

A common trend within commercial properties relating to construction and reconfiguration is adaptive reuse. Although people often use the phrases 'adaptive reuse' and 'redevelopment' interchangeably, there is a significant difference between the two. Adaptive reuse is the process of reusing an existing property for a purpose different than what it was originally intended. In doing this, these spaces are reimagined and repurposed to adapt with the changing times.

Local & National Adaptive Reuse

The most popular way the market has seen this shift is in multifamily as demand for apartments increases. Last summer, Kaufman Development started a 158-unit adaptive reuse project with Walker & Dunlop in the Short North. The project, Green|House, is an example of adaptive reuse that will provide a place for residents to recharge in an urban setting. Green|House includes 3,700 square feet of retail. “Amenities are set to include a fitness center, an outdoor pool, a spa, two treatment rooms, a sauna, an outdoor kitchen and fireplaces.” Because only a portion of this building is being renovated, the former IBEW building will remain separate, being used for commercial space including a leasing office for the new apartments. Green|House is estimated to deliver in the spring of 2024.

Chicago’s The Night Ministry also used adaptive reuse by restoring a manufacturing plant built in 1910. The building is now home to The Night Ministry, a nonprofit providing various social services. The project lead at Wheeler Kearns stated, “the Night Ministry’s new home revitalizes an underutilized building, known for the murals that adorn its exterior, into a welcoming and safe community asset.”


Adaptive reuse is sustainable, recycling and renovating existing buildings. When a project demolishes a property to start a new one, a significant amount of waste is created that ends in a landfill. Utilizing the current building cuts down construction costs as much as 16 percent. Adaptive reuse projects can account for up to 10 percent of expenses in new construction. Lastly, “adaptive reuse projects can help revitalize impoverished and run-down communities by bringing in new businesses, schools, low-income housing, or social centers and facilitating the growth of economic and social capital—a process known as urban regeneration. In this regard adaptive reuse also helps combat urban sprawl by making the most out of land that has already been developed.”

Looking Forward

Understanding the differences in zoning codes and other requirements can look different in each community. This process takes many phases of approvals and planning, and it requires lots of perspectives and actions from cities and individuals. This can be costly, depending on the age of the original building. Adaptive reuse has been around for decades as it continues to be an efficient way to develop unique and historic buildings. In larger, older cities, like New York City, this is seen in abundance due to the constantly outdated structures; the Refinery and Waldorf Astoria are examples of this. As architecture continues to change and improve, this trend of adaptive reuse will be a covenant for urban settings.


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