"Adaptive Reuse" Brings Old Warehouses and Garages to Life … In Which City?

Posted on: April 25th, 2012 by Guest Writer 8 Comments

Written by David Alpert

I recently visited an American city with many downtown buildings from a long-departed industry. The city's downtown is now experiencing new life, and many of the historic buildings are finding new uses after sitting vacant for many years.

This is a complex of old warehouses which have now become retail and offices. The developer added a really amazing water feature, a long river which cascades down waterfalls at various intervals. There are small footbridges across the river and even stepping stones to cross in one place.

The old chutes for the products remain and now serve as decorative flourishes. In the center is an old railcar, like those that once transported goods to and from the facility.

At another location nearby, people have turned several old garages into bars and music halls. They've also become a popular spot for food trucks, and two were sitting outside as we passed by on a Saturday.

Both of these [examples] demonstrate the preservation concept of "adaptive reuse." Old, historic buildings can become a valued part of a changing community by taking on different functions that residents need today. The distinct architecture of the structures and the small details that nobody would build today adds character and interest.

Can you guess the city?

[Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington]

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington. He has had a lifelong interest in great cities and great communities.

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Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Adaptive Reuse, General, Travel

8 Responses

  1. Eric Rogers

    April 25, 2012

    I’m almost positive this is Durham, NC! I recognize those old tobacco warehouses, and the converted garages, from a visit there last summer. Apart from the heat and humidity, it was quite nice!

  2. Kaitlin

    April 25, 2012

    I agree with Eric — Durham, NC (and my guess is further solidified by the Burt’s Bees logo in one of the pictures).

  3. Adam

    April 25, 2012

    The Burt’s Bees logo was a giveaway for me, too! Durham it is. Love these old warehouses.

  4. David Garber
    David Garber

    April 25, 2012

    Ding Ding Ding! Durham is the correct answer. You all get gold stars! ~David

  5. Joy Sears

    April 25, 2012

    I am the federal historic tax credit reviewer in Oregon. We had our last tax credit reviewer workshop in Raleigh, North Carolina. One of our field trips was to this wonderful complex in Durham. We met the developer and he really was an inspiration.

  6. April Johnson

    April 26, 2012

    Yes it’s Durham. I recognized it in one quick second. I was just at the American Tobacco Building campus yesterday and noting that it’s my favorite adaptive use project in Durham.

  7. Cliff Dyer

    April 26, 2012

    Product chutes, not shoots. (Channels for moving them around, not photography sessions)

  8. David Garber
    David Garber

    April 26, 2012

    Nice catch, Cliff. Fixed!