Repurposing Abandoned Properties Changes Commercial Building Landscape

The unpredictable swings within the real estate market means great things for those interested in buying commercial buildings. Investors are always on the lookout for businesses that are thriving and have potential to withstand the economic recession. But, the economy has not been kind to businesses. Many have had to layoff workers, downsize their retail spaces or abandon their locations, leaving “white elephant” empty buildings in cities across America. But, empty and abandoned commercial properties are not all bad. Commercial buildings can create unexpected benefits to the area when they are re-purposed into something unexpected. And, this trend to re-purpose existing commercial buildings is becoming a cost-effective alternative for commercial investors who are shying away from the expenses of from-the-ground-up building projects. Quite frankly, it is changing the look of our city landscapes.

As many mom-and-pop and chain restaurants have lost business during the recession, many have tightened their financial belts and closed locations in order to save costs. But, this has left unsightly empty buildings everywhere. Now savvy investors in commercial real estate see this time as opportune. Instead of building new commercial spaces, they can repurpose an existing space, forgo the necessity of building permits and create new profit generating businesses. Case in point being reported in 2011 Orlando Business Journal whereby a 6,000-square-foot foreclosed Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q restaurant was refitted to become a Funeraria San Juan funeral home. In fact, investors in central Florida have been taking distressed or obsolete sites that were zoned for retail, restaurant and automobile dealerships and redeveloped them into industry businesses that have established increased demand during the recession. For a previously closed Saturn dealership in south Florida, an investor saw vision to repurpose that space for education. As the economy has declined, there has been an increased demand for higher education skills and he saw opportunity to create an auto mechanic college. Other abandoned dealerships have been repurposed for aviation maintenance institutes and future land expansion for neighboring malls.

As real estate brokers and investment partners become more creative with finding new uses for abandoned properties, one of the most important aspects in the decision-making process is the upfront due diligence. Before any proposal can be established, the land has to go through investigations that will ultimately satisfy lender requirements. Many times, lenders require a commercial inspection to complete a Phase I Environmental Assessment to identify the previous usage of a property. A Phase I Environmental Assessment involves an inspection of the entire property, not necessarily just the building. It generally will include aerial photos, a walk around the property, a determination of property’s original history or usage, review of the EDR (Environmental Data Resources) database for buried tanks in the area and a review of the internal documents for hazardous waste disposal. A building inspector with certification in environmental auditing and building codes is the best candidate for detailed research and analysis reporting.

How to Enhance Your Commercial Building With Color

Painting commercial buildings is part of every commercial building management budget. Good use of color will draw in customers from the target market niche. A commercial building that is well maintained and is an asset to its neighborhood will also help deter graffiti.

When choosing a color for a commercial building, there are five factors to take into account:

* type of business

* customer demographic

* type of paint

* community

* region


An office building needs different color associations than a residential building. A walk-in clinic needs different colors than a fast food outlet. When painting commercial buildings, keep in mind the type of business it is to draw, and choose your color palette accordingly. Here are some examples of color associations:

* Bright reds, yellows, and oranges are associated with dynamic things. They are commonly used in association with food. Brightness can be enhanced by contrasting with dark details. A good starting rule of thumb when painting commercial buildings is to never to make red the dominant color.

* Greens are calming and peaceful. Blue greens are a common choice for clinics and other high stress places. Green also suggests environmental concerns. Combinations of greens and light browns are popular in apartment buildings for a feeling of comfort and spaciousness.

* Blues are clean and restful. They are in common use among traditional businesses, and are replacing browns in popularity.

* White, violet, pink, gray, brown, and black are best used as accent colors, although grays and browns still have some carrying power as traditional, honest colors, and soft pinks are popular in resort areas. Red with white stucco is a popular combination and has positive associations, but large areas of white are difficult to maintain, and may draw graffiti.

Color branding

A pattern of red and white stripes instantly raises thoughts of a certain type of fried chicken. This is an example of color branding. In some types of businesses such as fast foods, customers usually don’t set out to find a specific place, and are often drawn in by a familiar brand. For this reason, shelf appeal is just as important for commercial buildings as it is for products. A business that plans to open outlets elsewhere may wish to start establishing color branding for their buildings. Most franchises have already tested their color palette on their desired customer demographic, and building color may be part of the franchise agreement.


Some colors are considered classic, others shocking, but either may be appropriate for a restaurant depending upon what kind of customers it wants to draw. Younger demographics are drawn by more intense color, while older customers are reassured by sedate colors. A modern concept restaurant appealing to young, hip professionals may be able to get away with all black. Higher-rent apartment buildings have a distinctive color scheme, but are rarely bold. To reduce tenant turnover in low-rent apartment buildings, add an exterior mural. Never use too much red in any commercial building, since this can deter potential customers.


There was a time when all barns were painted red because red was the only color that would stand up to the elements. Today the choices are greater, but not all paints stand up to all climates equally, and not all colors are standard or available in all types of paints. Custom-mixing may cost much more than standard colors. Ask your industrial painting contractor which paint colors are standard in the types of paints best for your conditions in your region, and which ones have to be custom-mixed.


Painting commercial buildings presents different challenges in different parts of the city. Color can grab attention, help a commercial building blend into its surroundings, or even make it into a neighborhood anchor. A walk-in clinic in a modern area of the city may choose a cool, modern exterior color, while the same clinic in an arts enclave may be painted with bright murals. In general, commercial buildings should be painted to complement their environment, but also to stand out in the way the business wishes to be presented.


Different regions have different expectations of acceptable building color. The same pastel blues and pinks may be conservative in a resort region, but daring in a traditional city with deep winters. In most cases, it is best to paint commercial buildings following the norms of the area. Know your region, and paint your commercial building to fit in.

Commercial Building Inspections – How Do They Work?

For the purpose of enabling professionalism in commercial industry, the Commercial Building Inspectors Association was established so that official licensed recognition can be accorded to building inspections work.

Members of this organization who are also many times construction inspectors for commercial building examinations have to ensure that new and already existing edifices are made or work under the confines laid down by the controlling body’s code of principles. Their work is to make assessments of constructions and renovation of buildings and other structures.

The purpose of assessing buildings is to ensure that they meet the standards set by the buildings association and also that fundamental and regional requirements are met. They also look closely at specifics of covenants entered as pertaining to protection from harm through utility of buildings and see through inspection work through the employment of very specific specialized software for inspection. While working on commercial building examinations, the inspectors keep logs and take photographs. They also make reports and make important decisions concerning inspection work.

They use accompanying gear for field surveys such as meters, tape measures, test tools like concrete for strength measuring, and such other items to undertake their inspections. Such equipment when used for commercial building examinations is helpful to the inspectors in accomplishing their goals effortlessly.

Complaints logged to the building departments are usually attended to by the inspectors who then carry our inspections to find out what the issue might be after which they compile a report with the building department. Many times, it is the fire department that makes such complaints and they are made about lack of adherence to the regulations in buildings that are already constructed or new upcoming buildings.

Architectures, contractors and construction development companies usually work closely with inspectors in commercial buildings and this ensures that a building is finished with regard to adherence to the regulations for putting up buildings.

Inspectors have to ensure that they are always available to the public, to constructors, to and to construction developers since commercial building inspections have to be done and the examiners must be present to answer any questions that might ensue or be ready to assist in whichever way.