Partnership for Building Reuse

Partnership Home Slide

Reusing and retrofitting vacant and underused buildings, including more than 10 million square feet of vacant space in the urban core, can help Los Angeles grow more sustainably and meet changing market demands for new uses such as creative office space or housing.

A new Preservation Green Lab report, Learning from Los Angeles, marks the first in a research series to analyze demolition and development trends and develop strategies to foster building reuse in U.S. cities. Los Angeles served as the pilot city for the newly formed Partnership for Building Reuse between the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The Partnership for Building Reuse brings together community groups, real estate developers, and civic leaders around the common goal of making it easier to reuse and retrofit existing buildings using a market-driven approach. Launched in Los Angeles, the Partnership will expand to four additional cities in 2013-14. A national convening and publication summarizing the lessons learned through the Partnership for Building Reuse is planned for 2015.

In Los Angeles, the Preservation Green Lab gathered data and created maps showing citywide building demolition and development trends. This research informed a series of interviews and stakeholder meetings convened by the ULI Los Angeles district council to identify key barriers to building reuse and develop strategies to overcome these obstacles. The Learning from Los Angeles report summarizes the results, which include recommendations for city leaders, developers and property owners in Los Angeles, as well as other cities around the country.

For policy leaders

  • Modernize outdated zoning and building regulations to align them with comprehensive plans for re-urbanization, including the reuse of existing structures, alongside strategic infill construction.
  • Remove regulatory barriers to make building reuse easier, rather than adding layers of review and process.
  • Create more flexible zoning code definitions of building use to make it easier, faster and less expensive to adapt to changing market needs.
  • Integrate building reuse as a goal in other policy initiatives and reforms, such as zoning code updates, building code reforms, parking policy changes, transit-oriented development guidelines and climate adaptation plans.
  • Use downtown as a policy innovator to test new ways to encourage building reuse.

For property owners and developers

  • Conserve the authentic character of existing buildings, including architectural features and building materials that tell a unique story to prospective tenants and buyers.
  • Plan for diverse uses and frequent changes in use when investing in new building infrastructure and services, including elevators; heating, ventililation, and air-conditioning systems; soundproofing; and building access.
  • Design flexible interior spaces that appeal to the growing market for open plan living and work environments.
  • Promote the speed to market advantages of building reuse projects to prospective tenants and buyers when compared to new construction.
  • Support efforts to create diverse, mixed use urban neighborhoods that attract and support building reuse projects.

Learning from Los Angeles

Study Partners:

Urban Land Institute

With Support From:

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund
The Kresge Foundation
Southern California Association of Governments