Sometimes a building’s original use just won’t blend with the new.
About 10 years ago, The Alexander Co. was invited to Traverse City, Mich., to look at a potential project to convert a former insane asylum to apartments.
From the outside, it looked great.
“It was a beautiful group of buildings, unbelievable campus, just gorgeous,” Alexander manager Dave Vos said.
But inside, things were grim.
The building’s load-bearing walls were made of concrete block, and the hallways were about 12 feet wide. That was OK, but the rooms on either side of the hallway – where the future apartments would be – were only 8 feet wide, with a shower head and a light bulb in the ceiling at 12 feet off the floor.
“They (had) put these people in these little cells,” Vos said. “And we’d have to leave them that way, so how do you put in apartments or any other use? This was one where it was functionally obsolete. We couldn’t really find a new use that worked in these buildings that still preserved enough of the building to qualify for the historic tax credit.”