Top 10 Multifamily Adaptive Reuse Projects

Bigelow Commons, Enfield, Conn.

By Corina Stef

Adaptive reuse has played an essential role in the revitalization of U.S. urban areas through the repurposing of historic buildings. Whether they were industrial plants, factories, warehouses, asylums or hotels, they stood vacant and in poor condition, perpetually endangered by demolition. However, shifting demographics and trends, including high demand for urban space and housing, drove investors and developers to consider space conversion as an appealing option. Using Yardi Matrix data, we created a list of the nation’s largest adaptive reuse projects that have resulted in converted residential properties.



10. Bigelow Commons in Enfield, Conn. 

Bigelow Commons, Enfield, Conn.

The Northland Investment Corp.-owned, six-building community is located on more than 26 acres at 55 Main St. in Enfield, Conn. It was built in 1847 and was previously known as the Bigelow-Sanford Carpet Mill, but following a 1998 adaptive reuse conversion, the 431,062-square-foot warehouse complex is now a 471-unit apartment community. Bigelow Commons includes studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans and shared amenities, such as two lighted tennis courts, a library, health club, fitness classes and an on-site laundry facility.

9. Herald Towers in New York City

Herald Towers, New York City

Manhattan’s 435,795-square-foot community is owned by JEMB Realty and stands tall where the once-glorious Hotel McAlpin stood. Built in 1912 and located at 50 W. 34th St., the hotel employed 1,500 people and accommodated more than 2,500 guests and residents and was the largest hotel in the world at its time. It boasted a Turkish bath and had its own orchestra. It was rebranded as the Sheraton-McAlpin and the Sheraton-Atlantic Hotel until real estate developer William Zeckendorf Jr. took over it during the housing bubble and converted it to apartments in 1978. The 25-story, Class A building currently encompasses 690 studios and one-bedroom units.

8. Johnston Mill Lofts in Columbus, Ga.

Johnston Mill Lofts, Columbus, Ga.

Located at 3201 1st Ave. in the North Central neighborhood of Columbus, Ga., the 440,871-square-foot property was completed in 1900 and previously served as a mill. Following a 2002 adaptive reuse conducted by the PRS Cos. of Roswell, Ga., the asset became a 334-unit partially affordable community, spanning three buildings on 17.3 acres. Owned and managed by Hercules Real Estate Services, it comprises one-, two- and three-bedroom units surrounded by landscaped grounds, in addition to being on the National Register of Historic Places.

7. Olympia Mill, Columbia, S.C.

Olympia Mill, Columbia, S.C.

The 457,200-square-foot community is located at 600 Heyward St. in Columbia, S.C., and was built in 1910. Formerly a mill situated in the historic Olympia Mill village, it was the largest cotton mill in the world and the first in South Carolina to run on hydroelectric power from an off-site source. It operated for almost a century, until closing in 1996. Its current owner, PMC Property Group, converted the industrial facility into 180 upscale apartments featuring common-area amenities such as a large pool, fitness center with exercise classes, indoor and outdoor sports courts and a café.

6. Halstead Danvers in Danvers, Mass.

Halstead Danvers, Danvers, Mass.

DSF Group’s 505,596-square-foot, 433-unit partially affordable community is located on 36.7 acres at 1101 Kirkbride Drive in Danvers, Mass. It was built between 1874 and 1878 and was formerly known as the Danvers Lunatic Asylum, constructed due to the overcrowding of the surrounding asylums and hospitals. Although a popular filming location, the facility closed in 1992. In spite of being included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, the majority of the building was demolished in 2006. The remaining structure was saved through an adaptive reuse program by AvalonBay Communities. The property became a residential community spreading throughout 12 buildings, with scenic vistas and gothic spires.

5. The Mosaic in Dallas

The Mosaic, Dallas

A former Fidelity Union Life Insurance building erected in 1952, the 537,778-square-foot Mosaic is located at 300 N. Akard St. in Dallas. The company vacated the building in 1985 and the last tenant moved out in 1992. The property stood vacant until it was acquired by an investor in 2004 and renamed the Mosaic, due to the green tiles that cover the building’s façade. The renovations took three years to complete. Since 2007, the building has comprised 440 units overlooking the American Airlines Center, Trinity River Bridge and the Historic Mobile Pegasus. Olympus Property owns the asset, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

4. Lofts at the Mills in Manchester, Conn.

Lofts at the Mills, Manchester, Conn.

Located at 91 Elm St. in Manchester, Conn., what is now a 556,641-square-foot, two-building multifamily development was initially a weaving mill and a yarn mill, constructed in 1887 and 1911, respectively. Upon its conversion in 1995, it became a 408-unit community comprising studio lofts and one- and two-bedroom units. The current owner, Beachworld Residential, purchased the property in 2005. These historic mill apartments boast modern kitchens, exposed brick and beams, wood floors, soaring ceilings, a state-of-the-art theatre room, indoor basketball court, community patio, billiard room and fully equipped fitness center. 

3. West Village in Durham, N.C.

West Village, Durham, N.C.

The Connor Group’s 609,236-square-foot community encompasses seven former brick warehouses built in 1900 and 1916 that were converted to residential buildings in three different phases. The buildings, located at 605 W. Main St., were part of Liggett & Myers Co.’s vast tobacco empire, serving as cigarette manufacturing warehouses until operations relocated to a nearby factory. Following 2001, 2008 and 2015 conversions, the buildings are LEED-certified and include 609 guest suites, studios, one-, two-, three- and four-unit apartments, in addition to a new seven-story parking structure.

2. The Woodner in Washington, D.C.

The Woodner, Washington, D.C.

Located at 3636 16th St. NW in Washington, D.C., the 633,320-square-foot property was designed and constructed by billionaire architect and art collector Ian Woodner. A former apartment-hotel completed in 1952, it was then the largest air-conditioned building in the world, which hosted celebrities such as Bob Hope, Jayne Mansfield and John F. Kennedy. The property went through an adaptive reuse conversion in 1976, and it currently counts 1,123 studios and one- and two-bedroom units, in addition to first floor retail. The apartment building is located in the heart of the city, in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, next to Rock Creek Park.

1. South Side on Lamar in Dallas

South Side on Lamar, Dallas

The largest multifamily development on the list is South Side on Lamar, located at 1409 S. Lamar St. in the South Downtown neighborhood of Dallas. The 798,163-square-foot property is a registered National Historic Landmark and has previously been known in Dallas as the “Sears Building”, Sears’ first operation center outside of Chicago. Completed in 1910 and expanded in 1913 with an adjoining nine-story building, it underwent conversion in 2000.  The building closed its doors in 1993 until it was purchased by Matthews Southwest in 1997, then converted to 452 one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The property spreads across 10 floors and includes first-floor retail and 252 parking spaces. Located in a developing neighborhood, nearby amenities include retailers, the Jack Evans Police Headquarters, restaurants, hotels, a cinema and other residential developments. It is also near the proposed high-speed rail line connecting Dallas and Houston.

Images courtesy of Yardi Matrix

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