Investors have long been interested in adaptive reuse – the process of repurposing a vacant or underutilized building and converting it into another use. Vacant malls, for example, are now being transformed into medical uses, schools and even housing. And with COVID-19 changing the way we work and travel, savvy investors are now eyeing office buildings and hotels as ripe for redevelopment.
Adaptive reuse offers many advantages to developers over ground-up construction. It’s cheaper – as much as 20% less, according to the Urban Land Institute. It’s also sustainable because there’s less construction required to convert a building than to create a new one. That results in savings on construction materials and energy. And adaptive reuse allows the historic character of a neighborhood to be maintained.
One example of a successful – and creative – adaptive reuse project is 888 Tower, the conversion of a high-rise office building in Santa Ana, California into 148 units of workforce housing by Alliant Strategic, a multifamily real estate investment firm.
The 10-story office building was designed in the 1960s by architect Welton Becket, who is also responsible for landmarks such as Hollywood’s Capital Records building and Los Angeles International Airport. In addition to the apartments, the finished project will include a fitness center and yoga studio in the basement, which also houses an old vault from Security Pacific Bank, a prior occupant of the building. There’s also 3,500 square feet of space that will be used as an art gallery for a nearby school of the arts.
The $60 million project is slated to receive a certificate of occupancy this month, and it will deliver much-needed workforce housing – created from a vacant office building.