Adaptive reuse

Adaptive reuse refers to remodeling an existing building to accommodate a new use or purpose other than what it was initially designed for. Particularly in the downtown core, adaptive reuse can be an important element in land conservation and reducing urban sprawl. Additionally, many sustainable features can be found in historic buildings, including passive heating and cooling as a result of site orientation and natural ventilation, natural daylight and use of durable local materials. Reusing existing buildings saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding new construction and diverts demolition waste from landfills.

The San Antonio Museum of Art

We’ve successfully implemented adaptive reuse in many projects in San Antonio. The San Antonio Museum of Art building in downtown was formerly the Lone Star Brewery complex, built between 1895 and 1905. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Through a multimillion-dollar renovation, the facility transitioned into a museum in 1981. Another successful example is the 13-story Medical Arts Building, built in 1924. The high-rise building included a hospital and housed the offices of doctors and dentists.

The City has developed incentive programs for adaptive reuse projects in eligible areas. The City will continue to work with community partners to seek financial resources and incentivize opportunities for adaptive reuse projects, as well as continue to identify and evaluate procedural incentives.

Adaptive Reuse Ordinance: Los Angeles, California

Downtown Los Angeles is the central business district of the City of Los Angeles and the urban core of the greater metropolitan area. In the early 1900’s, Downtown Los Angeles was a hub of employment activity. However, by the 1990’s, the city center lacked a significant number of residents and had a large stock of vacant older office buildings. To help combat continued decline, the City approved the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance in 1999. The ordinance allows for the conversion of existing buildings into residential and live/work units; provides an expedited approval process and ensures that older and historic building are not subjected to the same zoning and code requirements that apply to new construction; and has created a clear direction for developers in dealing with the mechanical, plumbing and structural concerns in redeveloping older buildings for 21st century uses. The ordinance resulted in a complete rejuvenation of Downtown. The resident population increased from 27,849 in 2000, to 52,400 in 2014, a 94% increase. Downtown Los Angeles is now a thriving economic and social hub for the region, home to corporate headquarters from a variety of industries, and a sought after location for sporting, social and cultural events.