As the future of commercial real estate continues to flourish throughout our city, it's important to protect the rich architectural history remains intact. In St. Pete especially, the “shop local” mentality isn’t limited just to the businesses we support, but the physical spaces those businesses occupy. While new construction and development is important to shape our community’s economic future, there’s also an intense desire to preserve the unique local character of communities like St. Pete, Plant City, and specific neighborhoods in Tampa.
How does that happen? Adaptive reuse. This term often used by developers and those in historical preservation, is the process of taking an old building or site and reusing it for a purpose other than it was designed. For example, an old streetcar warehouse getting converted into a food hall—like Armature Works on the Tampa Riverwalk—or a former rooming house and dive bar becoming an inviting modern office space that Barkett Realty is proud to call home.
Adaptive reuse doesn’t exclusively focus on buildings that are historic landmarks carrying formal designations—it’s about preserving character and architectural detail in older construction to make spaces that equally serve the needs of consumers and business owners alike. Developers and businesses that participate in adaptive reuse do so because there’s a genuine passion for it, and an interest in creating spaces that the community is sure to enjoy. With adaptive reuse, we are able to conserve St. Pete history and breathe new life into our community in a sustainable and conscious way. It also comes with benefits for commercial developers as they navigate the local real estate market.
Cost and Labor Efficient
In commercial real estate, buildings are torn down and built simultaneously. With a desire to stay trendy and ahead of the market, developers are always looking for the next big design or concept rather than appreciating what’s already there. Adaptive reuse doesn’t just apply to historical landmarks either, it can extend into preserving cool local spaces. A new building can be enticing, but the fell of an authentic vintage space is impossible to recreate.
Although most developers take on an adaptive reuse project out of a passion for their community and local architecture, adaptive reuse is also a great way to save time and money during the building or renovating process. As mentioned in an article by Trade and Industry Development, rehabilitating a building is “16% less in construction costs and 18% less in overall construction time.” Adaptive reuse is the perfect way to help developers save money and provide the original building with a new way to serve the local community.
Conscious and Sustainable
Adaptive reuse not only benefits developers, it also benefits the environment. Aside from costing more money, the construction of a new building can put a large strain on the local community as it generates waste, triggers the health of the land and intrudes on the daily flow of the city. When taking into account the making of construction materials and the transport of building resources, the environmental impact adds up.
In many communities, adaptive reuse is also a key factor in conserving local land and reducing urban sprawl, the uncontrolled expansion of urban areas. Commercial real estate in particular is starting to favor the process of adaptive reuse and it’s estimated that over the next decade, “90% of construction will take place in existing buildings.” Take our office for example: the building was originally a rooming house which became a bar that fell into disrepair. Upon viewing the space, our owner John Barkett, an advocate for adaptive reuse in the St. Pete community, saw potential in the historic building and transformed it into the amazing space we have today while preserving the original architectural character of the building and fitting seamlessly into the surrounding neighborhood.
Taxable and Notable
Restoring historic buildings can also grant developers and property owners tax assistance through federal programs. Tapping into the historic rehabilitation tax credit grants a direct reduction in taxes for buyers and can range between 10-20 % based on the building's age and location. Issued by the IRS and National Park service, this tax incentive program ensures buyers receive support for extra rehabilitation costs, and buildings are protected to maintain their historical value and appeal. According to the IRS, a business owner is entitled to this tax incentive if a building receives historical certification or was built before 1936.
Aside from the tax benefits, restored historic buildings help connect the community. Locals are always eager to learn about their city’s past and experience the lives traveled by those before them. Adaptive reuse allows developers the chance to enhance the local culture and economy, while staying true to the city’s roots.
Adaptable and Purposeful
At Barkett Realty, we value the rich history St. Pete has carried for generations and the opportunities it provides for new and exciting projects. As developers, it is our responsibility to protect the unique qualities that make St. Pete the city we love to live in. Whether it’s helping small business owners move into a vintage space that matches their business or connecting the city to its historical roots, adaptive reuse is filled with endless possibilities. The key to a successful restoration project is remembering to implement a balance— advocating for the “soul” of a building and taking the community’s needs into account, are both incredibly important when using adaptive reuse.
Next time a new commercial project comes along, consider the possibility of adaptive reuse. You’ll make an impact in your community and enjoy some benefits along the way.