To Start Fresh or Restore? That is the Question.

When a company is looking to open a physical location, they oftentimes are faced with a question: do we build a new building, exactly to our specifications, or do we find an old building and restore it?  Oftentimes, they look into both options and end up choosing the one that is more financially affordable.  In some cases, it could be just fixing up a building that is in not-too-bad of shape already.  But more often than not, the older building(s) that they are considering need a lot of work, and would cost more to restore than it would cost to build a completely new office from the ground up.  I am here to argue, however, that restoring an already-existing building to its original glory, or making it more beautiful than ever, is a better decision all around–yes, even financially.

As I’m sure you all know, I am a resident of the Binghamton area.  Our area is full of beautiful, old buildings, many of which could use a little bit of love.  But oftentimes, businesses end up building brand new buildings to move into, rather than fixing up the ones that are already there.  So the old buildings stay unoccupied, and oftentimes start to slowly deteriorate before our eyes.  I’m not trying to sound unsympathetic to the difficult decision that businesses are faced with here.  Not only would restoring an old building cost a lot of money, it might be extremely stressful and time-consuming as well.  There could be hidden costs and unforeseen obstacles that come up in the process as well.  Not to mention, some companies might see constructing a brand new facility as a better option because they need specific, unique qualities for their operations that would be difficult to incorporate into a pre-existing space.  Still others might think that a brand new building would be a great addition to our area.  It is true that having new construction and new-looking buildings can improve the landscape, but so do old buildings that have been restored and beautified (now I’m getting ahead of myself).

All of that being said, I am now going to try to explain why I think restoration is a great option whenever possible.  First of all, it sends some really positive messages about the business or organization to the people in the area.  I don’t know about you, but when I see a sign up in the window of an old building that says what is going to be going in there, and start to see construction going on in and around it, I get so excited.  It means that people other than myself have a vision for making our area more beautiful, and are working to make it happen.  It shows that this particular business is investing in our area, that it sees the potential here and wants to be part of the future.  All of these things make me want to patronize that business all the more, and I always tell my friends and family about it.

That leads me to my second point.  I think that in the long run, restoring versus building new actually could benefit a company financially.  Again, they need to be thinking long-term.  It might cost more initially to restore an old building rather than to build a new one, but they need to think about whether it will actually help them to gain more customers, which would translate to more profit in the future.  Depending on sales, it could become profitable in a relatively short period of time.  These are all things that businesses need to consider, and each business would have their own way of doing the math to figure out how many additional customers they would need to gain in order to break even and make a profit.  However, I’m just trying to argue that it is not so black and white as comparing the cost of construction.

I’m sure the greater Binghamton area is not the only place that could benefit from more businesses and organizations giving pre-existing buildings a chance.  If this approach was taken more often, it would improve the look of towns and cities across America.  Because when one business does this effectively, others are encouraged to move in to the building down the street and fix that up–and the cycle continues.  I’m sure the decision of whether to start fresh or restore is a complicated one, probably much more so than I am giving it credit for here.  This is just my impression of it from an outsider’s perspective, based on what I would like to see happen someday.  Who’s with me?

 

****The featured picture for this blog entry is of the Chemung Canal Trust Company’s Owego Branch.  They restored a beautiful old building in Owego and did an awesome job!