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Thread: Contest: what building/use is worst suited for adaptive re-use?

  1. #26
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjel View post
    The main administrative building of my organization is a repurposed church. It now house the fiscal and executive offices as well as a preschool. The big meeting room is the top half of the old sanctuary. It's kind of cool because they left much of the woodwork and timber framing exposed.

    http://g.co/maps/57c72
    That's a nice one. I know of a couple of churches that have been repurposed as cool office space by creative types. Because the renovations required to bring these buildings up to modern standards can be substantial, it's often not a realistic option for the really large churches like the ones in Dan's post.

    A good friend of mine lives in a community church that was converted to a residence (see below). It's enormous inside, and extremely costly to heat; I don't think it was ever insulated properly. Her living room is one huge open room in the front. The kitchen and family room are located in a wing off the back that once housed kitchen/dining space and offices. Sometimes former residents and church members stop by, unaware that the structure is now a private home.

    Click image for larger version

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    Speaking of industrial structures, this is one of my favorite behemoths, an old cold-storage warehouse located in an Albany, NY industrial district. As with those grain elevators, I think it would take mega-bucks to transform this building for any other use.

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  2. #27
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    Grain elevators, the iconic symbol of Buffalo, NY:



    These behemoths sit on the Buffalo waterfront like ghosts, too big and too unique in form to really be put to practical use. Maybe they could be retrofitted into offices or apartments, but who would want to work or live in Buffalo's First Ward (never, ever a desirable neighborhood unless you were a 19th century Irish immigrant escaping the squalor of Buffalo's Canal Street neighborhood)?
    Didn't Rumpy have plans to convert one into a brewery? I wonder how that's progressing. Maybe I'll call him from the hot tub tonight and give y'all an update.
    I think that one of the great signs of security is the ability to just walk away.

  3. #28
    Old churches tend to get turned into condo buildings in Boston. One is a community theater now.

    More problematic: old nuclear power plants

  4. #29
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    A gas station to Hillbillies Deli.

    I think that one of the great signs of security is the ability to just walk away.

  5. #30
    Cyburbian Tobinn's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Gas stations are easily converted to other uses.

    I am surprised that nobody has mentioned outhouses.
    ...or Smelting plants and asbestos manufacturers.

    But seriously folks, there's one former gas station near me that's been transformed into a Credit Union Branch (I'd attach a pic but I'm afraid I don't know how to do that. No eye rolling, please. I clicked on the image icon and it asked me for a URL. I believe that I may be URLess) and one or two others that have been converted to use car sales.

    Moderator note:
    You can also simply attach a photo to a post either directly from your computer or by url if from the web - mendelman
    At times like this, you have to ask yourself, "WWJDD?"
    (What Would Jimmy Durante Do?)

  6. #31
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I've always been attracted to the architecture of small-town railroad stations, especially the ones with the hipped roofs with large overhangs. That seems to be the quintessial railroad station vernacular architecture of small town America, I suppose, but not only is the "footprint" of these stations somewhat limited because they're almost always set in unappealing locations: next to the tracks and surrounded by older, unlovely and unloved buildings. Unfortunately, too frequently, those railroad tracks are used just often to make these stations not feasilbe for housing. The surrounding neighborhoods tend not to be conducive to commercial ventures, either.

    A few that I can think of off-hand:
    • the station on Hamburg, NY's West End is used by a model railroad group for their displays
    • the station in Cherry Creek, NY, is used as a small consignment/gift shop featuring local artisans, mostly Amish
    • the station in Gowanda, NY is still used whenever the local railroad runs its sight-seeing excursions.
    • the station in Olean, NY, has been incorporated into the Olean Campus of Jamestown Community College as offices and a couple of class rooms.

    Most, however, just sit there rotting until they fall down or are demo'd.

  7. #32
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess View post
    I don't have a pic, but old Fotomats?

    You planning kids, you'll have to google this.
    I have seen them reused as drive thru coffee bars - there was one outside Grand Rapids, MI on Lake Michigan Drive a while back. Unfortunately it was on the wrong side of the road for people driving into work downtown, but maybe for those reverse-commuters.

    Just like many places ask for bonds from cell tower companies to pay to take them down when they no longer are used, we've looked into asking for the same from big box stores.

  8. #33
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    There's a great Web site called Not Fooling Anybody, with pictures of recycled Pizza Huts, Taco Bells, and the like,

    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess View post
    I don't have a pic, but old Fotomats?
    In the Buffalo area, a bunch were repurposed as drive-through windshield wiper replacement stores. They're all out of business.

    Tim Horton's, located every mile along every arterial road, has the drive-through coffee market cornered in the area.

    Here's an interesting article about Fotomat: http://pastprologue.wordpress.com/20...at-whats-that/ . From the page:

    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  9. #34
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    I was rushing to post something about Buffalo's grain elevators when I saw the title to this thread but it looks like Dan and Lynda beat me to it. Great to WNY well represented here.

    I agree with Dan that the biggest challenge to their adaptive reuse is their location in an industrial-port area. Lots of nuisances, including a few active elevators, to deter any residential or light industrial conversions that have been common in other parts of town. There are a handful that are away from the inner harbor industrial area that may be good candidates for adaptive reuse. The old Cargil Pool on the Outer Harbor would be a better candidate because it is away from the nuisances and has a better view of the lake.

    The good news is that their durability makes them useful for their original intended use, even after sitting vacant for a number of years. The Lake and Rail elevator has been patched up, outfitted with new equipment, and is back in use after sitting open and getting picked over by vandals. The problem is finding tenant who needs to store 2-6 million bushels of grain to go back into the other vacant elevators.

    Whatever happens, the grain elevators attract a lot of interest. I was part of recent a tour of a cluster of elevators for the recent National Historic Preservation Trust Conference that generated a ton of enthusiasm. Perhaps the best way to reuse them is to simply keep them intact and feature them as part of a greater cultural tourism strategy.

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