Repurposing vacant properties: A strategic approach for new commercial uses

Repurposing vacant properties allows individuals or companies to develop underutilised spaces in innovative ways. In fact, repurposing vacant properties as a strategic approach for new commercial uses requires understanding both the property’s possibilities and the community’s priorities. With vision and collaboration, empty spaces can become assets like mixed-use developments, affordable housing, community centres, urban farms, or parks. By taking this approach, cities can tap into the potential of vacant properties to strengthen neighbourhoods. 

Benefits of repurposing vacant properties

Repurposing vacant properties offers several advantages:

  • Lower construction costs: Adaptive projects can often be significantly cheaper for a company than having to demolish and rebuild from the ground up.
  • Community appeal: The preservation of historic buildings and cultural landmarks carries significant cultural and historical value, enhancing the community’s appeal.
  • Environmental sustainability: When repurposing, companies can convert it with environmentally friendly heating, ventilation, and HVAC systems, making it more energy-efficient and reducing running costs. 
  • Access to incentives and tax credits: Many adaptive repurposing projects can qualify for incentives and refunds, making them an attractive option for investors.


Overall, adaptive repurposing makes an attractive option for investors while providing economically viable solutions, aiding historic preservation, and enhancing the lives of a community.

Modern T3 Villa recently renovated by Lisbeyond Constructions

New commercial uses for repurposed properties

Retail and hospitality spaces

Vacant retail spaces can be repurposed for various commercial uses. One viable option is converting these spaces into self-storage facilities, which have seen a surge in demand. Additionally, transforming to gyms or fitness centres caters to the increasing emphasis on health and wellness.

Another potential use for repurposed retail spaces is converting them into healthcare facilities, such as laboratories and clinics, providing affordable and accessible locations while revitalizing underutilized areas. 

Office and co-working spaces

The rise of hybrid work models has prompted many tenants to reevaluate their office space needs. Vacant office spaces present opportunities for coworking spaces, catering to the growing demand from freelancers, startups, and remote workers. Coworking spaces offer a desirable alternative to traditional office rentals, generating higher revenue at lower setup costs, providing a flexible and collaborative environment that aligns with modern work preferences.

Mixed-use developments

Mixed-use developments, which combine residential and commercial, within a single development, have gained significant popularity in recent years. These innovative projects maximize space efficiency by integrating different types of services and accommodations, offering numerous benefits, including easy access to amenities, reduced commuting needs, and the revitalization of urban areas. 

Economic incentives from the Portuguese government

The Portuguese government offers various financial incentives to finance renovation projects that promote building energy optimization. 

The eligible expenses are strictly regulated by the government and classified into six categories: 

  1. Windows
  2. Thermal insulation
  3. Heating/cooling for air and domestic hot water systems
  4. Renewable energy production equipment
  5. Optimization of water management
  6. Integration of biomaterials, recycled materials, green covers, and bioclimatic architectural solutions

In addition, The European Union has increased the amount of public funds available for energy efficiency and aims to encourage private investors to invest in energy efficiency projects in the residential building sector.

Success stories in Portugal

Portugal has witnessed several noteworthy examples of successful repurpose projects. These case studies showcase the potential of repurposing and serve as inspiration for future endeavours.

  1. LX Factory (Lisbon): This former industrial complex, once home to a printing factory, has been transformed into a vibrant cultural hub. The LX Factory now houses a diverse array of businesses, including restaurants, cafes, bookstores, and creative studios, all while preserving the site’s industrial heritage. 
  2. Mercado da Ribeira (Lisbon): This historic market building, which had fallen into disrepair, has been revitalized through adaptive reuse. The Mercado da Ribeira now houses a bustling food court, showcasing local culinary delights and providing a vibrant gathering space for locals and tourists alike.

The strategy of repurposing vacant properties presents a multitude of benefits for urban communities. By transforming underutilized spaces into thriving commercial hubs, mixed-use developments, or cultural landmarks, this approach not only revitalizes neighbourhoods but also promotes economic growth, and the preservation of cultural heritage. 

Moving forward, investors must embrace repurposing vacant properties as a viable solution for urban revitalization. By leveraging government incentives, incorporating flexible designs, and fostering stakeholder engagement, the repurposing of vacant properties can pave a promising path towards sustainable urban development and community enrichment.

Explore Lisbeyond’s property management services and embark on a rewarding journey in the world of short-term rental in Portugal.

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