Leonard Engineering

A Structural Engineer’s Pro-Tips on Adaptive Reuse

Louisville is being repurposed a building at a time through adaptive reuse, and Leonard Engineering has lent its structural engineering expertise to many of these adaptive reuse projects. We recently helped repurpose an old warehouse to be the new brandy distillery, Copper & Kings, in Butchertown, and we are currently lending our structural engineering expertise to the Germantown Mill Lofts project. Soon, we will be helping to transform the old Spindletop Draperies building on Bardstown Road into a mixed-use space, which will be a nice addition to our long list of restoration projects.

As you can see we have been around the adaptive reuse block numerous times, and we wanted to share what we’ve learned with any potential investors.

Get a Building with Good Bones

While this may seem like common sense, it is always a good idea to get a structural evaluation of a building before you buy it. Plenty of potential reuse projects have faltered during the planning stages due to unforeseen structural repairs that were necessary for the new use, but were not in the project budget. The money spent in the assessment may reveal some bad news that will prevent the potential of losing the purchase price of the investment. ln other words, know what you are getting into before buying it.

Get a Building in a Good Location

In real estate, location is everything and if you want your adaptive reuse project to be profitable, you’ll need to make sure you research the area in which you’re buying. Look for an area that’s just beginning to take off. The prices will most likely still be reasonable and with others building in the area, the market should be there for you. In overdeveloped areas, the prices may be too high to allow for positive ROI; and, in underdeveloped areas, the prices may be right, but the market isn’t there. Look for the sweet-spot, an area that’s just beginning to take off is usually a safer bet. In Louisville, this could be certain areas of Downtown, NuLu, Portland, Bardstown/Baxter, or Germantown.

Get a Good Niche

What will your building be? Retail space? Office space? Apartments? Mixed use? Green? There are a number of directions you can go, so you’ll need to put the research in to see what the area needs and what it can support. Germantown Mill Lofts is a good example. It’s a growing area with great restaurants nearby, and it should definitely be able to support 200 loft-style apartments.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about your adaptive reuse project, please contact us today. We’ll be happy to help point you in the right direction.

Rendering by Pimsler Hoss Architects, Inc., architects for reuse of Germantown Mill Lofts.

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