Lean Sustainable Solutions

Suburban Office Parks

Take a drive around your neighborhood.
What do you see?
What type of buildings do your local businesses occupy?

If you are like me, you may drive past abandoned factories, office parks, or strip malls. You may even think to yourself, “Hmmm…what is going on with these buildings? Is there are new business interested in moving in to these properties?”. Hopefully, if you are reading this post, you may have thought this to yourself and wondered what is going to happen to all this empty space.

Recently, I came across an article by the Chicago SunTimes that directly acknowledges the opportunity to turn around suburban office parks and create a new purpose for these buildings. The truth is, these structures are already in place, they are generally located in heavily populated areas that people already frequent on a daily basis. They just need to be repurposed.

Another classic example happened in Buffalo, NY, a rust belt city full of opportunity from its historic grain industry. At times, the real issue isn’t that abandoned buildings can not be repurposed, it is convincing the public that it is worth the cost to save historic buildings. A really cool idea that City of Night in Buffalo did to spark interest from the public was to host a creative event inside of the old grain buildings. The event included music, art installations, and performances throughout the buildings, including in grain elevators, in order to showcase local talent while the public providing a unique view and perspective of Buffalo that otherwise may have remained forgotten and buried.

There are lots of opportunities out there to improve your neighborhood by repurposing buildings or bringing in creative business alternatives to historic or abandoned properties. One of my favorite trends I have seen recently to repurpose space, even if it is temporary, is to have pop-up stores. Just think, what if there was an etsy store that wanted to take its business to the streets for the holidays. Here is an example of a store in Portland called BoysFort that does this annually to the point where it has become a highly anticipated tradition.

What are some examples of repurposing that you have seen in your hometown?

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