The Local Solutions in Action series highlights strategies for expanding housing options and increasing housing affordability. The focus is on land use, zoning, financial and other regulatory tools that are available to cities, counties and towns that can be used to meet the housing needs of their residents and workforce.
Adaptive Reuse: Motel Conversion
Adaptive Reuse refers to programs, policies, and ordinances designed to create new housing in existing buildings once used for commercial, industrial, or public purposes. Adaptive reuse poses an alternative solution to demolition or deterioration, and provides an option for expanding housing options in an environmentally sustainable way, while also potentially maintaining historic buildings and preserving existing community structures.
Communities that have unmet demand for affordable housing and an abundant of old commercial building stock available have used adaptive reuse as a tool to create new affordable workforce housing. Adaptive reuse can require site plan review committee, special use permits, incentive programs, conversion factors, and new ordinance introduced. Therefore, there is no one standard way to implement an adaptive reuse program. The approach will depend on the goals and planning processes of the community, as well as the stock of potential buildings appropriate for repurposing as housing.
Converting older, dilapidated or underutilized motels can be an important component of an adapative reuse program. A successful implementation of Adaptive Reuse through Motel Conversion is in the City of Williamsburg, VA. This community has a strong demand for affordable housing and an abundance of motel properties in the area. A local motel property owner in Williamsburg took action by submitting a proposal to repurpose outdated and underused motel rooms into affordable apartment units, addressing his situation and the city’s. In 2014, the City of Williamsburg created a special use permit and a Planned Development Housing District for motel conversions. There is currently a limit of 150 adaptive reuse housing units possible through this program.
The PDH district and adaptive housing was added to the city code giving clear guidelines and definitions. The city has defined adaptive housing as primarily efficiency and one-bedroom units with adequate cooking facilities created from all or part of an existing hotel/motel and used for the purpose of providing non-permanent, affordable and flexible-term housing for individuals and families who may not have access to traditional housing alternatives.
The motel owner who first submitted the proposal has been successful in using the special use permit, converting 60 motel rooms into 47 housing units. These rooms fit the adaptive housing criteria, and have rents ranging from between $695 and $1,125 per month. The owner is in the process of converting 68 motel rooms into 53 additional housing units.
If you want to know more about how Adaptive Reuse programs can be used in your community to expand housing options, please get in touch!