This country is full of older commercial buildings that are built of brick. They once housed factories, many of them sewing or fabric manufacturers.
More importantly, many of these buildings are near town or city centers where lots of people want to live and work.
Looking at old buildings is something many people enjoy. Old buildings are inherently interesting. The style and design is part of it. Older buildings tend to have character newer buildings lack. The buildings are attractive and can be turned into lofts, condos, and locations for businesses.
In many cities older commercial buildings have been repurposed into living and work spaces where people rarely have to leave the building. Their home is there, their work is in the building or nearby, their dry cleaner is there, their pizza store is there, and their evening entertainment is there. They can live their whole lives in an area enclosed within a few blocks.
And while this might seem confining and uninteresting, the fact is that residents of large and sophisticated cities live in and like this kind of urban village environment. They also like and enjoy having the pleasures of a large and urban location when they want to have some special celebration, shopping trip or adventure.
Think of large Victorian houses that were built at the end of the 19th century near city centers from NY to LA and many locations in between. These houses morphed into multifamily boarding houses during the depression and some returned to housing single families during the recent housing bubble. It made the extensive remodeling and refurbishing seem like a good idea, though some locations turned into the proverbial money pits we all fear.
Hopeful real estate developers still buy, build and remodel in these types of locations with varying degrees of success. Not even Donald Trump gets it right all the time and he lives and works in one of the best locations in the world for this type of enterprise. Location matters in commercial real estate.
It’s an intriguing problem the can seize your imagination and money and life. An old jeweler once told us that real estate developers never have any money. The ones near us are sinking fast (and not for the first time) but still, dreamers among us refuse to be discouraged.