Funeral Home, Mental Hospital between old buildings transformed into trendy apartments | Voice of America



Would you like to live in an old funeral home? How about a former madhouse, subway terminal, cinema or stadium?

These properties, along with abandoned factories, schools, courts, churches, warehouses, shopping malls, and military installations have mostly been saved from demolition and turned into apartment complexes.

“They were simply magnificent buildings, and instead of having them demolished and simply created a square concrete structure, the idea was to use some of the tax credit laws in effect at the time and create these great living spaces,” says Lynn. Butts, marketing coordinator in a former chocolate factory converted into a housing estate in Philadelphia.

This former chocolate factory, built in 1902, has been converted into the Chocolate Works apartment complex in Philadelphia.  (Courtesy Reinhold Residential)
This former chocolate factory, built in 1902, has been converted into the Chocolate Works apartment complex in Philadelphia. (Courtesy Reinhold Residential)

Philadelphia’s former Wilbur Chocolate Company is now home to the Chocolate Works, a residential apartment complex with one and two bedroom units. Part of the charm of these old buildings are the preserved architectural details.

“When we renovated, we left the inner courtyard structure, so you can see these big metal beams cross the courtyard,” says Butts.

Over the past 70 years, more than 240,000 apartments have been brought to market in this way, with 65% of these conversions targeting low- and middle-income renters, according to a report by RENTCafe, an internet listing service.

Lofts and commercial spaces now occupy a former mattress factory built in Atlanta, Georgia in 1864 (courtesy of The Mattress Factory)
Lofts and commercial spaces now occupy a former mattress factory built in Atlanta, Georgia in 1864 (courtesy of The Mattress Factory)

The report notes that the apartment conversion rate reached an all-time high in 2010. Eight hundred old buildings have been converted into apartments over the past decade. Almost half, 44%, is aimed at people with low and middle income.

“With the growing demand for housing, especially from millennials, many of the older large buildings have been repurposed into affordable housing, an ideal solution for millennials who value sustainable living and don’t like being financially attached to a place. particular, “Alexandra Ciuntu, a real estate writer and a research analyst for RENTCafe, author of the study, told VOA in an email.

The former Danvers State Insane Asylum, built in 1878, has been repurposed and is now home to exclusive apartments in Danvers, Massachusetts.  (Courtesy RENTCafe)
The former Danvers State Insane Asylum, built in 1878, has been repurposed and is now home to exclusive apartments in Danvers, Massachusetts. (Courtesy RENTCafe)

Hotels, factories and schools were the most common structures to be transformed into apartments for middle and low income earners.

“One of the main reasons adaptive reuse projects can provide more affordable apartments is that the regulatory process for redeveloping an existing building is simpler than for new construction, especially when there is no need to change the footprint or size. lot size of the project, “Ciuntu says. “This helps reduce the overall development time of the project, which can ultimately lead to lower construction costs.”

Butts, marketing coordinator at the former Philadelphia chocolate factory, works for a company that has converted several old buildings, including an automobile showroom, a factory that separated cream from milk, a former hardware store, a former hotel and a YMCA.

“People are always looking for something a little different. Our apartments tend to be much more spacious, with high ceilings, not your typical square white box, “says Butts.” So many of the properties, for example, it wouldn’t be uncommon to find an exposed brick wall or beamed ceiling. converted. Some of the features of yesteryear have remained intact. ”

The Packard Motor Car Apartment Building's past history as a vehicle showroom is evident in its floor-to-ceiling windows, Philadelphia.  (Courtesy Reinhold Residential)
The Packard Motor Car Apartment Building’s past history as a vehicle showroom is evident in its floor-to-ceiling windows, Philadelphia. (Courtesy Reinhold Residential)

Along with charm and sustainability, the converted properties also meet the growing demand for housing triggered by a growing population, according to Ciuntu. They can also revitalize communities.

“Reused old buildings can bring a neighborhood back to life while preserving its unique identity and showcasing its history,” says Ciuntu. “Reusing an old building also reduces energy consumption, the amount of building materials and, ultimately, the costs associated with demolishing the structure and building a new one in its place.”

According to the report, the types of buildings converted change along with economic circumstances and trends over the time period. From the 1950s to the 1990s, hotels were the most common buildings to be converted. In the 2000s it was factories. In the 2010s, office buildings were the most likely properties to turn into apartments.

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