Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning recently authored a piece in Green Living Magazine on adaptive reuse, the process of repurposing old, historic, and often abandoned buildings right in our city for new business purposes. Read on:
Studies show that car-dependent cities have been hit hardest by the current economic crisis. Home values, in particular, have dropped most significantly in cities that suffer from urban sprawl. In addition, a recent Gallup Poll of college graduates showed that the next generation of educated professionals is looking for urban, not suburban, lifestyle opportunities. So where does that position Phoenix in the never-ending battle to attract large, quality companies with higher-wage jobs?
As people look to define a sense of place, community, and quality of life for their futures, they look to areas of convenience–where shops and restaurants are just around the corner as opposed to miles away. They look to areas with unique experiences and interesting architecture, and fun and walkable neighborhoods with coffee shops, book stores, and sidewalk cafes. We have those opportunities here in Greater Phoenix, but we need to be sure our investments are focused on the types of developments that are going to help us activate areas of blight and that will better position us as a competitive region going forward.
Phoenix has many buildings built between 1950 and 1975 that sit vacant, losing out to new developments on the outskirts of town. These buildings are perfect incubator spaces for independent businesses of all kinds. The City of Phoenix has been streamlining the process for the adaptive reuse of existing buildings, making it easier for a new business to open up in a repurposed building. Once updated, these buildings can and do revitalize neighborhoods when retrofitted by and for entrepreneurs. Additionally, retrofitting older buildings opens a host of opportunities for green jobs in our city centers...