All across the U.S., numerous buildings owned by the federal government sit empty. They are relics of a bygone era when government buildings were the crown jewels that anchored urban centers. Today, many of these vacant shells are eyesores to their respective communities.
There is strong concern for these communities. They are subjected to blighted conditions because of the government failing to make a disposition determination.
For adaptive reuse, communities must embrace the private sector. It is not the intent of developers to disregard the historical importance of these buildings, but rather to use the historical elements as a catalyst for unique adaptions and common good.
The federal government spends millions of dollars annually trying to identify alternative uses for its historic buildings. They are often handed from one government agency to the next without the property structural changes or functional improvements needed to service that agency in even the most basic way. To do so, it is estimated that $400 to $550 per square foot in retrofitting expenses are needed. With the high dollar amount needed to retrofit these structures for government use, the government assumes the private sector cannot and will not justify the cost of reuse.
However, by using the private sector and its expertise, the government can in fact relieve itself of the financial responsibilities of maintaining such facilities – and contribute to the revitalization of our cities.