Redevelopment, Adaptive Use and Historic Preservation
Existing community assets possess far more future value today to property owners and investors than ever before. While existing infrastructure and older buildings may require improvements to make them more efficient and code compliant, the costs to incorporate upgrades are far less expensive to the owner than replacing the existing structure with a new building and accompanying new infrastructure. Many older properties when properly redesigned can have extended useful lives greater than 100 years into the future.
RAFI’s experience with redeveloping older structures and creating adaptive uses dates back to the firm’s earliest days when it was commissioned to conduct a forensic study of the Community Church in Henderson, Nevada constructed in 1942. The church was severely damaged and declared unsafe as a result of the rocket fuel explosion at the nearby Pepcon manufacturing plant. From the investigation and an economic feasibility analysis that followed, it was determined redeveloping the property to conform to current codes and ordinances and adapting it to serve as a new senior center for the community was one-third the cost of demolishing the existing building and constructing new facilities on the site. The revised and upgraded property remained in full use until a new senior housing facility was constructed on the site in 2010.
In addition to redeveloping the Henderson Senior Center and receiving a Historic Preservation Design Award for its contributions, RAFI was commissioned to perform a Blight Study and expand the City of Las Vegas Redevelopment Area to incorporate new, larger area boundaries. The firm went on to assist Boulder City, Nevada, Mesquite Nevada and Elko, Nevada establish new redevelopment agencies and redevelopment areas to curtail blight. The Boulder City and City of Elko projects both incorporate its historic downtown areas.
Working within established redevelopment areas offers property owners and developers opportunities for grants, stipends and tax abatements. Similar assistance is available when working on upgrading designated historic properties using the US Secretary of the Interiors standards. RAFI’s work through the State of Nevada State Historic Preservation Office ranges from a number of surveys and investigations to rehabilitating the historic USO building in Hawthorne, Nevada.
Other extended use and rehabilitation projects include upgrading housing units for the Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority, where 50 year old properties will now serve residents in highly improved settings for a minimum future of another 50 to 100 years. Similar success has occurred for RAFI at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California, where facility upgrades are extending the lives of historic buildings approaching 70 years old for an additional 50 to 100 years of continued service.
With its next redevelopment project, the firm is already creating strategies to upgrade an older existing structure to provide an extended one-hundred year future that functions entirely free from the existing power grid.