Repurposing abandoned spaces helps businesses, the economy, and the environment

Due to limited commercial space in Arizona’s metropolitan areas, various organizations and companies in the state have turned to repurposing larger, abandoned spaces.

According to Jones Lang LaSalle, average office rent in Phoenix for the first quarter of 2018 was roughly $25 per square foot. Although less than the national average of $33.78 per square foot, this is still an expensive asking price for startups and mid-sized businesses. This has turned companies toward using co-working spaces or converting larger spaces into offices.

The same JLL report explains, “The market currently has 2.4 million square feet under construction, with an estimated 1.7 million-square-feet planning to deliver throughout the next 18 months. Just under 22 percent of this new development has been pre-leased thus far. While this might seem like a lot of development activity, the lack of speculative properties is forcing tenants to get inventive with spaces.”

For example, Consumer Cellular recently opened a call center in Phoenix, replacing an abandoned Sam’s Club location near the I-17 and Bell Road. Because of the sheer size of the previous warehouse-style grocery store, Consumer Cellular will be able to make room for hundreds of callers, managers, and executives. The size and affordability of the space make it the perfect location to open a new call center.

Additionally, in the last couple of years ago, Washington-based startup Faithlife Corporation purchased an abandoned Chandler grocery store for its new office. Mayor Jay Tibshraeny was thrilled.

“It’s exciting to see this type of investment and office development convert an existing building into a new use in downtown Chandler. Downtown Chandler has become the epicenter for entrepreneurs and technology companies and this new facility validates our efforts to bring high-wage jobs and creative minds to a dynamic area of our city,” Tibshraeny said.

Giving new purpose to old buildings cuts down on environmental impact and can add more jobs than new construction. According to President of Savannah College of Art and Design Paula Wallace, $1 million spent on construction creates 30.6 jobs, whereas repurposing a building creates 35.4 jobs.

In terms of environmental impact, the EPA reports that the U.S. creates twice as much construction and demolition debris as typical garbage. Repurposing buildings eliminates the majority of the debris created from new construction – instead of demolishing entire facilities, companies can repurpose existing space to optimize time and minimize environmental impact.

As office rent rates rise, repurposing larger, unused spaces proves to be an innovative and effective solution for Arizona businesses. Not only does it save money, it also adds more jobs.

Ben Norman

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