Everything Old…Should Be New Again
Adaptive reuse is the process of reusing an old site or building for a purpose other than that for which it was built or designed. Since the recession of 2008 estimates suggest that more than 70 percent of the United States construction activity occurred on existing building stock or sites. These projects have transformative economic and community effect on the buildings and neighborhoods that surround them.
Adaptive reuse and infill is one of the 5 operational pillars for the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation. In recent years we have celebrated many reuse projects such as Penn State Altoona’s Downtown Campus that now includes combination of 5 major building renovations and infill projects. We have welcomed Dickey’s Barbeque in the Casanave Building and new housing options in the former Artificial Limb Building downtown. A new downtown hotel, brewery, and ballet, round out a list that continues to grow. Across town the renovation of the former Bon Secours Hospital complex promises to spur even more creative adaptive reuse projects.
These pioneering projects are happening in our mountain main street communities throughout the valley. I had the opportunity to meet two of our next generation visionaries in Tyrone. John and Will Russell are from Tyrone, moved a way and boomeranged back in a big way. After starting up several companies and gaining experience in both Pittsburgh and Philly, they decided it was time to come home.
“After high school I moved to Pittsburgh to work in phone stores and attend college,” said John. “I quickly realized that my vision was to own my own business so I began planning the opening of my own Verizon store in my hometown. Within five years my business grew to 25 phone store locations across five states. My brother Will joined the business as the CFO. We opened our Verizon Wireless Zone corporate headquarters for our phone stores in downtown Tyrone in 2014.”
John and his brother now own and are currently renovating four buildings in Tyrone and filling them with several 20 and 30-something young professionals. This next generation talent-force is enjoying the mountain town lifestyle and work-life balance. “By adding additional business to our portfolio we needed to acquire additional space to accommodate our growing staff. We quickly realized the potential of revitalizing downtown Tyrone by restoring older buildings, adding new business and providing more job opportunities for local and neighboring residents,” John said.
“We hired a construction crew to renovate the spaces to provide additional space for our explosive growth.Our vision is to create a downtown area that will attract new professional families to relocate to Tyrone. Our 2017 growth plan includes adding several new ventures as well as expanding current businesses,” John added.
If you want to see what the future looks like, talk with John, Will and his growing team. The next time you look at the tired building or vacant site, ask yourself what should it be again. Think big and make it happen. ABCD will be working with John and others like him to ensure they have the resources to succeed.