Repurposing Neglected, Unused or Abandoned Commercial Properties

Katie Thompson
Last Updated: July 17, 2023

What if there was a way to transform neglected or abandoned properties such as the Eric Cormack Center, a former hospital located in Oliver, Edmonton, into a vibrant hub of activity? Enter the world of repurposing commercial properties – a trend gaining momentum in Edmonton and many cities across Alberta. The City of Edmonton has a Development Incentive Program grant of up to $200,000 for investors constructing new commercial buildings and mixed-use developments located within areas approved by council.

The Power of Repurposing Old Commercial Real Estate

Repurposing commercial properties involves taking underutilized or vacant buildings and breathing new life into them. Rather than tearing them down or leaving them as eyesores, repurposing allows us to reimagine these spaces in creative and innovative ways.

Benefits for Local Communities

Repurposing commercial properties offers a host of benefits for both individuals and communities. Let us explore some of these advantages:

  • Revitalizing Neighborhoods: Repurposed properties inject new energy into neighborhoods, attracting foot traffic and boosting local economies.
  • Preserving Historical Significance: Many Edmonton commercial buildings hold historical value. Repurposing ensures these structures are preserved, keeping a sense of heritage intact.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Instead of constructing new buildings and contributing to urban sprawl, repurposing promotes sustainable development by making use of existing structures.
  • Job Creation: Repurposed properties often lead to the creation of new businesses and job opportunities, revitalizing local employment prospects.

Old Strathcona in Edmonton, Alberta

Repurposing Ideas

The possibilities for repurposing commercial properties are endless. Here are a few innovative ideas that have gained popularity:

Co-working Spaces

With the rise of freelance work and entrepreneurship, the demand for flexible working environments has skyrocketed. Repurposing commercial properties into co-working spaces provides a cost-effective solution for startups, small businesses, and remote workers.

Mixed-Use Spaces – Live Work Units

Transforming commercial properties into vibrant mixed-use shopping, living and dining destinations is an exciting way to bring life back to neglected areas. By attracting local vendors and entrepreneurs, repurposed spaces can become community hotspots. Some common examples of mixed-use spaces include commercial units on the ground floor and residential units located in the above ground units.

Art Galleries and Creative Studios

Commercial properties often have large, open spaces that are perfect for art galleries, studios, and creative workshops. Repurposing these properties into hubs of artistic expression can foster cultural growth and community engagement.

Education and Learning Centers

Repurposing commercial properties into educational facilities, community centers, or libraries can provide access to valuable resources and promote lifelong learning in the community.

Old Strathcona in Edmonton, Alberta

Overcoming Commercial Real Estate Development Challenges

While repurposing commercial properties offers immense potential, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. These may include zoning restrictions, grant applications, public hearings, building code compliance, and securing funding. However, with proper planning and collaboration between a civil engineering team, communities, municipal government, and investors, these obstacles can be overcome.

The Way Forward

The repurposing of commercial properties is both an art and a science. It requires vision, creativity, and a commitment to community well-being. By harnessing the potential of these neglected spaces, we can transform our city and create sustainable, vibrant communities for generations to come. Together, we can unlock the true potential of underutilized commercial properties and contribute to the growth and prosperity of our Edmonton communities.

Bolson Engineering and Environmental Services is passionate about development. We have partnered with developers across Alberta to streamline their residential and commercial developments. Have a vision? Let us engineer your ideas. Contact us.

About the author

With more than 12 years in human resources, Katie brings important process management skills to the table. Her direct experience with senior management in the construction industry helps her understand your engineering project goals. Her creative forward-thinking propels Bolson toward exciting new business opportunities.

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