Adaptive Reuse: Transforming Communities and Meeting Housing Demand

Land Development
Contact: Nicholas Julian
Senior Program Manager, Land Use
(202) 266-8309

As cities and towns nationwide navigate post-pandemic recovery, policymakers and housing developers are shifting their focus toward strengthening and enhancing local economies. This offers a promising opportunity for adaptive reuse — also known as office-to-residential conversions — of commercial buildings, driven by evolving work dynamics and the underutilization of older properties.

Originating from historic preservation, adaptive reuse has evolved into a strategy to meet contemporary demands and address the high demand for housing while invigorating local economies. However, such projects are not without challenges, including financial and regulatory hurdles. NAHB’s new Adaptive Reuse Guide dives into the factors influencing adaptive reuse, and offers insights and examples to strengthen local economies and foster vibrant downtowns.

The guide puts adaptive reuse into a national context as a response to evolving trends in both office and residential real estate markets. This shift is driven by a combination of governmental emphasis on sustainable communities and owners' desires to maximize their assets, as reflected in rising office vacancy rates alongside stable residential vacancies.

The guide lists regulatory and design considerations for adaptive reuse projects, including necessary zoning changes and building form to allow for these complex projects. Home builders can find the potential benefits to engage with local policymakers who wish to promote vibrant, healthy communities. The guide also provides a variety of tax, funding and process tools that can aid in conversion projects, along with two case studies of successful projects.

NAHB’s new Adaptive Reuse Guide serves as the newest tool in the Land Use 101 toolkit for builders, developers and policy makers navigating the complexities of housing development and affordability.

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