Re-purposing commercial or religious properties, or letting imagination take over older architecture with interesting results…

The article that inspired this contemplation can be found here and at the end of the post.

I often look around when I’m out somewhere and there are pretty big chunks of real estate that I’ll see “for sale” or about to be torn down. It kind of makes me mad, even if the buildings aren’t terribly nice and need some major TLC.

It just makes me wonder how cost-effective it really is to build a whole new strip mall–with the foundation, new plumbing and utilities, building materials, etc.–versus putting the time and effort into existing structures, and leasing them out nicely as opposed to leaving them to rot and grass to grow up and cover the asphalt or concrete.

I wonder about this a lot, and thought about opportunities that older structures may have, especially the strips of old “main street” stores that are all unused. Granted, I can assume the interior space would be much smaller than most business owners (and shoppers) are used to. But in that case, if there was a need to have more square footage, why break down most of the wall connecting two of the old stores and make one big one? Then you have two entrances to play with and an interesting face on the outside.

I hate how many “small town main street” strips of commercial property will have empty store windows. That’s definitely true where I am at, though some locals definitely try to put doctor’s offices or other small businesses in those areas. But when the big corporate chains come in, they stake out a spot far from these guys, build a whole new building (and maybe a whole strip mall to work with, too) and that’s where the business goes.

That’s what used to piss me off so badly about Walmart. They set up shop way far away from everybody else, have to get plumbing and city services piped to them, build a big old building and then any store that wants to stay in business has to pack up and move near to them because that’s where all the traffic is. Then they leave behind buildings that will just rot away eventually, be boarded up and take up space, slowly making that part of town die.

For more on this, read the book How Walmart is Destroying America

But I digress.

So, that’s shopping centers, but what about churches? Where I am, there aren’t all that many churches that are built of brick and are stand-alone structures (though lots of churches, for sure). Other places in older states certainly have nice churches that have had to downsize their facilities budgets or for a dozen other reasons, they’ve had to close up shop and stop being churches.

It makes me wonder what someone could do to them.

I’m not religious by a long stretch, but I have a respect for architecture. Cheap, metal-siding buildings that look like they could double as body shops but are dollar stores or other businesses just don’t do it for me. They’re cheap and everywhere around here. But that’s why I like driving through older neighborhoods when I get the chance, or doing a walking tour or Houston to visit the older buildings.

I like to see the different styles.

A church has a thousand ways to be different, or a synagogue, mosque, temple, etc. Some of it’s denominational, but also the building materials used in the first place.

I always wondered what I would do if I had a million dollars. I’d love to have a bookstore/coffee shop (or music shop), but not some strip-mall specially built thing. I’d love to re-purpose a building, like a church, and make that into a bookstore.

Frankly, I think an old church would be the perfect place for a library or bookstore. With enough partitions and special spaces, maybe even an event space or music store.

That’s what I’d love to do if I got my hands on an old property to be re-purposed. Some have had great ideas the past few years. NPR did a story about them (as have other sites), but I gotta admit, the article really got me thinking of some interesting possibilities.

If you wanna read up (and see a few of these converted churches), then here you go (I know I’d love to go see ’em):


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