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Infrastructure Tools

Adaptive Reuse


Definition: The process of using an old site or building for a purpose other than which it was built or designed. Pre-WWII industrial and institutional buildings are commonly repurposed due to their durable construction and dimensions suitable for housing.  


Benefits: By leveraging existing buildings, especially those that are large and spacious, communities can facilitate the transformation of the underutilized buildings into livable, affordable housing units. Adaptive reuse contributes to resource conservation and reduced energy consumption, neighborhood and local economic revitalization, and increased local tax revenues. 


Getting Started: Begin by inventorying both publicly and privately-owned buildings, focusing on those vacant, underused, or not currently meeting community needs. Ensure that zoning is flexible enough to allow residential uses in areas previously zoned exclusively for commercial, industrial, or other non-residential uses, and that infrastructure such as water, sewer, and electricity can support the new housing units. 


State Policy & Local Examples: The City of Saco adapted the site of the Notre Dame de Lourdes Church for the purpose of rental housing and an accompanying parking lot.


The City of Saco in 2013 proposed demolishing the unused Notre Dame de Lourdesto Church to make way for a parking lot. After the city revised its plan, a developer purchased the church and converted it into 19 apartment units. The project received an award from Maine Preservation. 

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