Adaptive Reuse Boom Attracts Capital, Creativity & Challenges
By Paul Rosta, Senior Editor
From 1926 to 1986, a hulking masonry-clad building in Midtown Atlanta served as Sears, Roebuck & Co.’s main distribution center for the Southeastern United States. This summer, 475,000 square feet of office space will open in the freshly renovated complex, the first phase of Jamestown’s three-year reinvention of the old distribution center as a 1.1 million-square-foot office, retail and residential complex called Ponce City Market.
Two thousand miles away, in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, another 1920s-vintage Sears distribution center recently started on the road to renewal. In December, the 1.8 million-square-foot complex was acquired for a reported $29 million by Izek Shomof, a prolific local developer and investor. Shomof has yet to disclose his plans for the complex, which features a distinctive 14-story tower and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But given the his track record for rejuvenating vintage properties, it seems to be a safe bet that the venerable building, like its Atlanta cousin, is destined for a multi-use makeover.
Separated by a continent, these two former Sears distribution centers illustrate the capital and creativity that are flowing into adaptive reuse today. Although the concept has been embraced for decades, several recent trends are causing adaptive reuse to proliferate. The technology-driven emergence of creative office space, renewed interest in distinctive urban residential space and the appeal of unique hotels to sophisticated travelers are giving developers fresh reasons to find new life in old properties.
“Time has shown that the value of the historic fabric is greater than it would appear,” observed Michael Phillips, Jamestown’s COO.
Read the full interview in the March 2014 issue of CPE. Access is free!