9+ ways to reuse and redevelop a former gas station

There are lots of ways to approach gas station redevelopment and there are lots of examples of gas station reuse.The two primary things we look at when looking to redo a gas station are:

  1. environmental risk: were  there any leaks, are the tanks still there, what type of tanks and equipment is in existence?
  2. The lot size: many former gas stations are on small lots ranging from .15 to .5 acre. Many of these lots are too small to do much with at all. 

For environmental checks we do a quick search, Phase I or Phase II. The results of these reports determine the risk and next steps. Highly desirable sites can have higher environmental risk that can be dealt with due to the extra dollars in the deal. Sites that are not as desirable and have enviro risk are harder to deal with unless the seller can kick in more than a few bucks or unless the state/Feds have dollars available for remediation. 

Small sites are predicated on the lot size, building footprint and zoning. What can be built? Is there enough parking? What is the current highest and best use for the site. These are physical and legal limitations. 

Ideal sites for gas station reuse and redevelopment have:

  • Over .5 acres of land
  • Lighted intersection
  • High traffic counts
  • No or low enviro issues

As for what use to put there, the market will dictate. What were previous gas sales at the location? Are there other newer gas stations nearby? What are the day and night traffic patterns? Is there a better use altogether like fast food, coffee, retail or even mixed use?

Here are examples of gas station reuse and redevelopment:

  • Another gas station (duh)
  • Cafe or diner
  • Sandwich shop
  • Retail
  • art gallery
  • Visitors center
  • Fast food
  • Scrape: drug store, fast food, banks, residential 
  • Maybe nothing. Some sites just can't be reused

If you have a gas station and are in need of gas station reuse or redevelopment advice or want to sell it, give us a ring at 1-866-538-1777 or email us. 

We can and would love to help with your former gas station. 

Take Ten - Salon Building in MS - Sell My Commercial Property Review

Here is our quick "take ten" (minute) review of a “sell my commercial property” request on a salon building in MS this week. (One of about 150-300 we receive each month.) Unfortunately, we have to pass on this opportunity.

However, there is opportunity for someone and here is where it lies: - buy the business and real estate as it has been a salon for 24 years. - area is projected to have 27% future job growth - local person could convert to a nice house. See house on corner nearby (image below) - could turn into a small income property. 95,000 ask price with a $791 per month net rent could be a 10% cap rate for someone.

If you have interest in this MS commercial property for sale, please contact us at 1-866-539-1777 and we can get you in touch with the owner/broker.

We are passing because: - tucked in physical location blocked by neighboring building (see image below) - location off of main drag - 31.0% of the population are below the poverty line, including 43.7% of those under the age of 18 and 21.3% of those 65 and older. - home prices are 45k to 75k nearby; owner is asking $95k on this deal. No noticeable upside for the extra price. - Population in 2014: 12,703 (96% urban, 4% rural). Population change since 2000: -4.8% more - crime index 409; US average 297

We are happy to review your property for free, call us or go here.



How 5 Former Auto Parts Stores have been Reused and Redeveloped


We love seeing how other property owners and developers are reusing buildings built for one thing and turning them into another. Auto parts stores are fairly easy to reuse due to their (usually) square or rectangle footprint, good street visibility and ample parking. At the end of the day though, not anything will succeed in these locations. It is best to do a market analysis of what types of businesses are in demand for a specific location. (Hint: we can help you with that)

Here are five reuses and redevelopments of former auto parts stores from around the country:

Transforming an auto parts store into a fine wine destination

Hammonton, NJ

NJ Winebar former auto parts

The classy but casual wine bar/restaurant, open seven years, is located in a former auto parts store. Instead of spark plugs and wiper fluid, there are hundreds of wine bottles -- reds on one side, whites on the other.

"It was a risky move, but it was advantageous because there wasn't anything like this here,'' said Jacki Dolan, who owns Annata with her brothers, Matt and Phillip.

Auto Parts Store converted to Medical Offices

Albuquerque, NM


Top Molina officials were in Albuquerque Thursday to celebrate the opening of the company’s 7,000-square-foot clinic on Central Avenue in the heart of the city’s International District. The clinic, housed in a former auto parts store, will eventually have three doctors who will be able to see 75 to 90 patients a day.

Former Auto Parts Store turn into Apartments

Chicago, IL

bluestar auto

The property that was once the famed Cullerton Hotel and then later the Blue Star Auto Parts store is ready to transition into a new use: apartments. Announced early last year, the plan has just received permits to begin major renovation work on the four story brick building at 2001 S State Street in the South Loop. Initially proposed to feature 25 rental units, the permit indicates that the development will actually have 22 apartments. Ground floor retail will also be a part of the plan, although the permit doesn't spell out exactly how much space there will be for commercial tenants.

Former Auto Parts Store and Auto Body Turned Music Venue

New Haven, Connecticut

Outside-Spaceland-Ballroom 720x540_zpsaqd9mdyf

The Spaceland Ballroom, a 300-person capacity music and arts venue.

The Space (since 2003) exists to build a safe, positive community for people of all ages through music and the arts. Physically, we are a listening room venue located in an unlikely industrial park in a sleepy suburb of New Haven, Connecticut. So we definitely have that whole mystery thing going for us. We’re somewhat small in venue size (150 capacity), but we house a whole lot of love and a whole lot of decorations. You can spend a few months mentally cataloging all the weird random things hanging from our walls and ceilings. We have a large stage that is the focal point of the room. We have a Vintage Boutique (The Attic) and 80s arcade upstairs. We also have a Cafe that serves awesome food and there is an expansive outdoor patio area that has comfortable seating. The Space is basically halfway between an underground arts collective and a sticky floor rock venue. There’s carpet, a checkered floor and a staff made of awesome people. There are velvet couches crazy lamps and over 50 different flavors of tea. There’s also rock and roll, folk, acoustic orchestras, independent film, SKA, experimental, indie shows, and more happening on our stage. We have hosted hundreds and hundreds of national, regional and local bands since we opened in early 2003. We are a venue run by musicians for musicians.

Auto Parts Store converted to Laundromat

Winooski, Vermont


The family started planning to open a laundromat four years ago, and it took almost a year and a half to find the perfect location, Chris Asanya said. Finally, they happened upon a former auto parts store that was being used for storage in Winooski and began to plan.

Do you own a former auto parts store or is there a vacant one in your neighborhood? Call us, we can help: 1-866-539-1777

How The Nation's Old Armories Are Being Repurposed And Redeveloped


They tend to be imposing structures. Built to contain ammunition, troops and sometimes even cavalry horses and equipment, military armories were made for a time when war could be just around the corner.

But times have changed; the military’s mission is not what it was, and units are smaller.

So when the armed forces move to more cost-effective spaces, what happens to the old armories?

The answer is simple: repurpose the buildings into something else.

An armory might end up as an office complex, a farmers’ market, or even shops, restaurants and condos; all it takes is funding and some imaginative people with a plan.

An old armory that can pay for itself


When Peterborough, N.H. acquired the old Air National Guard armory in town, it didn’t anticipate the Guard taking, as a town official put it, “everything but the kitchen sink. And the kitchen sink wasn't even usable because it wasn't up to code."

Once fixed, the mandate came down: no new taxes for operating costs. So the town’s recreation director got creative; the drill hall is rented out for farmers’ and flea markets, the Recreation Department holds exercise classes there, and the town food pantry operates from there as well. The Cornucopia Project, which teaches young people about organic gardening, has space behind the armory and gives away the harvest through the food bank. Finally, after a fundraising campaign that raised $162,000, the town installed a commercial kitchen.

"We've lost a lot of opportunities here to generate income because we haven't had a commercial kitchen. Now we can lease out this facility and be sure that it's self-sustaining,"

-Select Board Chairman Barbara Miller

From bullets to books: the Armory at Sage


The armory in Albany, NY sat vacant—until a local college saw it and picked it up for the bargain price of $675,000. For a site that included 68,000 square feet of space on a three-acre site, it was a steal for Sage College.

Starting in 2012, the college renovated disused space into 21,000 square feet of seminar rooms, classrooms, a conference room, student lounge, and faculty offices. Phase 2 will be more classrooms and faculty offices, while Phase 3 will be the big project: turning the three-story-high “drill shed” into a multipurpose area that both the college and community can use.

“For nearly 90 years, the National Guard used this building to serve the Capital Region and our country. We are proud The Armory at Sage will continue that tradition, preparing our students to serve their community.”

-Sage College President Susan Scrimshaw

Keeping the bones, but revamping the interior: why the Culver Road Armory is a success

culver armory redevelopment

When the Culver Road Armory in Rochester, NY was decommissioned in 2012, buyers had a plan to make it relevant again: turn it into a mixed-use development with offices, shops and restaurants. To help pay for it, developers asked for and got a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreement from the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency, a $2 million loan from city nonprofit agency Rochester Economic Development Corp, and $450,000 in pre-development money from the city as well. The total cost: about $14 million.

The new Culver City Armory has been a success, Chris Stevens, the head of the local neighborhood association, told the local paper:

“It has become just a vibrant property, full of life. The architecture is beautiful.”

The facility has done so well that additional office space has been added behind the building, and a six-story, 10-condominium building is also in the works.

Repurposing an armory takes time, lots of money and dedication. But as Angela Miller, who is part of a group trying to turn the West Chester, Pa., armory into a theater said, “It’s such a unique opportunity to take this building and really recreate that community space.”

Top 5 Reasons to Obtain a Land Survey


Guest Post by Will Schnier, P.E., President of BIG RED DOG Engineering | Consulting Land SurveyThere are many reasons why somebody purchasing property would want to obtain the necessary survey products. For this discussion, at a minimum, I recommend that you should always obtain a current title survey, based on a title commitment less than 30-days old. A title survey will include information regarding property lines, location of improvements, easements, utilities and other conditions affecting the property.

I would also suggest that you consider obtaining a full tree, topography, and boundary survey in addition to the title survey if it’s appropriate for your purchase and project/investment intentions. The tree, topography, and boundary survey is also referred to as a design survey, and may be used by an engineer or architect to develop site development and building plans.


My top five reasons for you to obtain a survey are as follows:

1.) Know what you’re buying – the survey will identify the exact limits of the property boundary and improvements on the property.

Real estate can have title and boundary disputes (unfortunately it’s more common than you’d expect), which a title survey would help to uncover. Furthermore, relying upon tax district information on the lot or building size, or seller furnished documentation can be a recipe for expensive trouble without proper due diligence.

2.) Discover the presence and exact location of any easements, restrictions, or other encumbrances that may be imposed upon the property.

You may look out on a piece of property and see a green field, or a paved parking lot, and simply assume that that land is available for you to develop easily. How does that change if there are drainage or utility easements in that location? You may still be able to develop, yes, but your cost just went up a lot more than the cost of the survey.

Or suppose, you’re out in the county, not under the jurisdiction of a municipality that can impose zoning and land use restrictions. So you can build what you want right? What if a former owner of the property restricted its use, in an effort to promote a certain type of community? That 10-acre tract you intended to use for your commercial construction business may not be feasible if there is a deed restriction from 30 years ago limiting the use of the property to residential.

3.) If you’re spending significant money, it makes sense to an additional thousand or few thousand on a title and design survey.

Obtaining a title survey is an affordable way to obtain some more peace of mind with the transaction. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. You should do everything you can to protect the investment you’re making. A title survey could be as little as $1,000.

4.) The title and/or design survey can be used in the future to prepare drawings and exhibits, and to apply for building permits.

If you’re buying an office building for example, your prospective tenants may ask for a site plan showing the parking locations on the property – well now you have a survey you can supply them. Suppose again you want to apply for a minor building permit to expand the same office building - having a survey in hand will be a necessary step in that process.

5.) You can make the other guy pay!

All real estate contracts, residential or commercial, contain a clause specifically assigning the cost of the tile survey to either the buyer or the seller. Check the box next to the other guys name; this point is rarely an issue of significant contention during the negotiation process.


For more reading, I would encourage you to visit the BIG RED Blog.  On you blog you will find very useful information on the land subdivision and site development permitting process, and highlights of specific BIG RED DOG projects, such as our new downtown Austin hotel at 416 Congress Avenue.Survey

About Will Schnier, P.E.:

Will Schnier is the President of BIG RED DOG Engineering | Consulting. He has been responsible for the project management, engineering design, and regulatory permitting of numerous multifamily residential, retail, office, and industrial site development projects throughout central Texas. He can be reached by email at Will.Schnier(atsign)BIGREDOG.com or by phone at (512) 669-5560.

About BIG RED DOG Engineering | Consulting:

BIG RED DOG is an Austin, Texas-based civil engineering firm specializing in land development engineering, permitting, and land use consulting. Our team of professional civil engineers and certified land planners has over 100-years of combined experience in the Austin and central Texas market. Our commercial project experience includes multi-family, hotel, office, industrial, retail, and single-family subdivision development projects throughout central Texas.

REuse Profile: Church converted to offices


A nice REuse project score this week from the twitterverse. A former church in Sparks (Reno) Nevada has been converted to office spaces. Saw this tweet from Linda @thebrokerlist

And the conversation went....

From the Reno-Gazette Journal:

It was built more than 110 years ago in Wadsworth as Emmanuel First Baptist. In 1904, it was moved to 1188 Victorian Plaza Circle in Sparks.

A complete remodel has spiffed up the antique interior and exterior and brought building systems up to code.

"Our goal was to use today's technology and keep the original look," the owner said in an email.

"Saving a little of 'Old Sparks' was very rewarding," he wrote.

The Vitamin Vault - Walgreens in Historic Bank


This is a Walgreens store located inside a historic bank building in Chicago. It has been a very talked about redevelopment project including Huffington Post and Forbes. I came across this photo on Instagram: walgreens-former-bank
from Instagram http://bit.ly/1qGCAPW
via jorgemus
The Vitamin Vault #chicago #architecture #bank #walgreens #farmacy #vitamins #vault #door #metal #health #shopping #design

Here is an exterior shot before the signs went up:


Survey: Problem Properties - hard to sell or lease


We are working on a solution, called REpotential.

“REpotential” is the possibility of what a property can become. We uncover the REpotential by looking at and evaluating a property or real estate problem from ALL angles. Our process produces a range of options and solutions that maximizes the economic, social, and environmental values of the real estate for the property owner, users and community.

First, we review all relevant information related to the property, improvements, parcel and market. We then make professional judgements as to what strengths could be exploited and what weaknesses could be improved. After our property assessment is complete, we brainstorm to create possible courses of action that will maximize the productivity of the property to achieve the owner’s goals.

Talk to Thomas for more information.

property turn around

Quora for Real Estate


Quora for Real EstateDo you use Quora?  Maybe you like learning or teaching or are just plain curious or are trying to get an answer to that question that Wikipedia or Google could not answer. Quora is like Yahoo Answers on steriods.  The answers come from real people (real names shown as opposed to screen names) and those real people are usually experts in their fields.

When time permits, I like to jump on Quora to learn about interesting stuff and sometimes even give my two cents.  Here are some of my answers on Quora as related to real estate:

Real Estate Investment Question

Read Quote of Thomas Morgan's answer to Is buying an empty lot in downtown west Jefferson, north Carolina a good investment? on Quora

Real Estate Redevelopment Question

Read Quote of Thomas Morgan's answer to Urban Planning: How can dying downtowns be revitalized? on Quora

Commercial Real Estate Lease v. Own Question

Read Quote of Thomas Morgan's answer to Why is Google leasing and not purchasing its newest development? on Quora

Commercial Real Estate Vacancy Question

Read Quote of Thomas Morgan's answer to Commercial Real Estate: It seems that lots of commercial real estate will become vacant in the near future as more bricks and mortar retailers go bankrupt (more e-commerce). What could this excess real estate inventory be used for in the future? on Quora

Reuse and redevelopment of former bank branches


Put your thinking cap on.  How do we reuse and re-purpose all these old buildings? It seems to me the "greenest" building is an existing one.  Why build new when you can buy for 20% of replacement cost?

Specifically, this is a former Citibank branch in a decent location within a major western MSA. The building is about 10,000 sf total (half ground level and half basement). Branch is fully finished and built out as a bank with drive thru lanes, teller counters, office, conference rooms and all furniture. It is for sale or for lease and owner is open to redevelopment.

Let me know your ideas.....

Networking Opportunity for Reuse of Existing Buildings

Also, if you are interested in reuse and redevelopment of existing buildings please let me know. I will be forming a networking group of those interested. This would also go for properties that you own or have listed that are taking a long time to sell/lease, are functionally obsolete or are just plain "weird". I am thinking we can help each other out with some regular brainstorming sessions of how to redevelop and reuse odd buildings and make them easier to sell or lease.  If interested, email here or tweet me.

Katrina Cabins come to Colorado


South Main Buena Vista CO developer gets creative. Katrina cabins originated in NOLA after the big storm and turned out to be a good affordable housing solution. Here they are going on excess land as lower price point sales and rentals..... With charm and character none the less. 20110729-052134.jpg 20110729-052146.jpg



Brownfield Redevelopment Books


As you know TMO is involved in Brownfield Redevelopment nationwide. Here is a list of books which I think are the best for Brownfield Redevelopment:  (You can review and buy them here: Brownfield Redevelopment )

-Brownfields Redevelopment and the Quest for Sustainability, Volume 3 (Current Research in Urban and Regional Studies) [Hardcover] Christopher A. De Sousa

-Brownfields III: Prevention, Assessment, Rehabilitation And Development of Brownfield Sites [Hardcover] C. A. Brebbia and U. Manderbrownfield redevelopment

-Strategies for Resolving Environmental Land Use Disputes: Leading Lawyers on Responding to Changing Environmental Protection Standards, Ensuring Compliance ... Brownfield Redevelopment (Inside the Minds) [Paperback] Aspatore Books Staff

-Greening Brownfields: Remediation Through Sustainable Development [Hardcover] William Sarni

-Brownfields Redevelopment: Programs and Strategies for Contaminated Real Estate by Mark S. Dennison

You can review and buy them here: Brownfield Redevelopment

Adaptive Reuse Books


As you know TMO is involved in Adaptive Reuse nationwide. Here is a list of books which I think are best for "Adaptive Reuse":

You can review and buy any of the books here: Adaptive Reuse Books

-Structural Analysis of Historic Buildings: Restoration, Preservation, and Adaptive Reuse Applications for Architects and Engineers [Hardcover] J. Stanley Rabun (Author)

-Adapting Buildings for Changing Uses [Paperback] David Kincaid (Author)Adaptive Reuse

-Building Evaluation for Adaptive Reuse and Preservation [Hardcover] J. Stanley Rabun (Author), Richard Kelso (Author)

-Re-Use Architecture [Hardcover] Chris van Uffelen (Author)

You can review and buy any of the books here: Adaptive Reuse Books