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Now Available for Download! Eyesore to Asset: A Guidebook for Adaptive Reuse of Vacant Retail, is a comprehensive guide designed to aid local governments and business leaders in their search for new and innovative models for local economic development.

Action Center:


“By envisioning these spaces in a new way, we can see how they can serve as assets in creating much-needed affordable housing in communities as well as providing people who may be out of work as a result of COVID-19 with affordable space to explore entrepreneurship.”

– Ashon Nesbitt, Technical Advisor, Florida Housing Coalition

A New Model for Economic Empowerment

Adaptive reuse of vacant commercial space with both affordable housing and an intentional focus on programming to support entrepreneurs can break the debilitating synergy between these challenges facing local economies.

Adaptive reuse refers to the reuse of a building or structure for a purpose other than its original design. To date, adaptive reuse has primarily been deployed in historic structures with intrinsic value to a community like schools, malls, churches, offices, or other landmarks for which a city or neighborhood is known, but their original use no longer meets the needs of the community. There is remarkable diversity in new uses for adaptive reuse projects, ranging from market rate and affordable housing, space for colleges, universities, and local governments, coworking office space, and mixed-use development.

This Guidebook suggests that adaptive reuse can be deployed in traditional retail plazas typified in suburban development and strip center development.

A Pathway for Adaptive Reuse and Supporting Entrepreneurs

This Guidebook offers an optimal path for pursuing adaptive reuse of vacant commercial space. Specifically, we discuss:

  • how to support low-income entrepreneurs
  • how to identify properties suitable for adaptive reuse
  • how to prepare for an adaptive reuse project
  • how to design the site
  • how to finance the project


Request a Consultation

For questions, technical assistance, or consulting requests, complete this form or contact Ashon Nesbitt at

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