Top 20 US Cities for Commercial Remodeling

Posted on Apr 20 2016
Type Blog

Commercial Remodeling is on the Rise

Remodels in the US are booming – and the trend isn’t just amongst residential properties.

Commercial remodeling across the country increased by 7% between December 2014 and December 2015, and has increased 26% since 2013. Especially when compared to commercial new construction, which increased by just 22% since 2013, it’s clear that commercial remodeling is on the rise.

“There’s a host of reasons commercial remodeling is a popular choice. Not only does it help preserve cultural history, revitalize neighborhoods, and encourage urban density, but it’s also a great eco-conscious alternative to new builds,” said Holly Tachovsky, CEO and founder of BuildFax. “It also lends a certain hipness factor to an area. Who wouldn’t want to dine on a chef-prepared meal in a renovated old church in a vibrant walkable neighborhood?”

Commercial remodeling doesn’t come without its challenges, though. Costly problems can hide beneath the surface of old buildings and some historical renovations have more red tape than others due to preservation ordinances and guidelines. The uncertain nature of these renovations poses an obstacle when scheduling contractors, keeping to a schedule, and keeping a budget on track.

In Louisville, the Pros Outweigh the Cons

In our top city for commercial remodeling, Louisville, Kentucky, a city well-known for its historical boroughs, lively nightlife, and eclectic food scene, the commercial remodeling it’s seen in the last few years has been a boon to the city.

“Bringing historical buildings back to life adds character and charm to our city,” said Alison Brotzge-Elder, Communications Manager for Greater Louisville Inc., the Metro Chamber of Commerce, “The rich architecture here is one of the many reasons people want to be here and stay here.”

Louisville is no stranger to creative redevelopment. The city’s water company sits in the historic Crescent Hill Gate House and they’re moving 300 city employees into the newly renovated Edison Center, an old industrial building that sat vacant for a decade and a half.

More Jobs Mean More Demand for Commercial Space

The civilian labor force is expected to grow at an annual rate of 0.5% between 2014 and 2024, and with service-providing jobs projected to comprise 94.6% of all jobs added within that timeframe, the demand for commercial spaces such as restaurants, healthcare facilities, and retail will likely increase as well. [source:]

Some of the biggest and most successful companies in the US are headquartered in California, where nearly half of our top 20 cities are located: Google, Apple, and SpaceX, to name a few. Unemployment rates in Silicon Valley and Southern California plummeted by the double-digits in 2015, so it’s no surprise these areas have seen an increase in commercial remodeling activity. [source:]

Job growth is a major factor in determining demand for commercial space, and that demand is part of the reason commercial real estate is heating up. With a tighter inventory and a more competitive commercial real estate market, companies in search of usable space are often choosing to renovate rather than build new.

Commercial Remodeling Is Good for the Planet

All this commercial remodeling is good news for the environment because it produces less waste.

Denver, Colorado – number 3 on our list – embodies these eco-conscious values with plenty of repurposed buildings, including a Montessori school in an old laundry warehouse, a once-dormant brewery returning to its original turn-of-the-century home; and the revitalization of Union Station for a mixed-use shopping, dining, and entertainment hub.

“It has been said that the greenest building is the one that is already built. Preserving our built environment is a key component of any environmentally minded planning strategy,” said Steve Turner, Deputy Executive Director of History Colorado and State Historic Preservation Officer. “When we preserve, restore, or rehabilitate existing buildings and structures rather than demolishing them, we are recycling construction materials, reducing the waste stream to landfills, and maintaining vital physical connections to our past.”

These Cities are Prosperous

So what does it mean if a city has an increase in commercial remodeling? It means these cities are doing well. They’re revitalizing their communities. There are likely great opportunities for employment. And they’re doing their part to contribute to the betterment of the environment.

“We’re happy to see an uptick in commercial remodeling,” said Holly Tachovsky. “It’s such a win-win story when you see an increase in jobs, a lighter environmental footprint, and economic vibrancy. These cities are on the leading edge of that trend.”

If you’re interested in learning more about BuildFax’s commercial property data, contact us today.

BuildFax determined which cities across the US have seen the most commercial remodeling activity by extracting building permit information from its massive database of over 23 billion data points of construction records. BuildFax looked at the largest 100 US cities by population, and the percentage change between 2014 and 2015 of commercial remodel project counts to determine the top 20 cities. 

  1. Louisville, Kentucky

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in retail, food services, education, and healthcare.

Fun fact: Louisville’s West Main Historic District has the largest collection of cast iron façades outside of Soho in New York City.

  1. San Jose, California

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in hospitality, retail, and food services.

Fun fact: Hotel DeAnza, a historical 1931 Art Deco Hotel underwent a major renovation recently.

  1. Denver, Colorado

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in healthcare, hospitality, and retail.

Fun fact: There’s an exciting new endeavor to revitalize Denver’s abandoned industrial corridor into a mixed-use project called Steam on the Platte.

  1. Bakersfield, California

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in food services, retail, and healthcare.

Fun fact: Bolthouse Farms, headquartered in Bakersfield, recently underwent a major renovation and expansion of its commercial facilities including its marketing, research, and development offices.

  1. Riverside, California

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in entertainment.

Fun fact: Riverside also saw a dramatic increase of 126% in commercial new construction.

  1. Oakland, California

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in retail, food services, and education.

Fun fact: The old Sears building is newly renovated and reimagined as a mixed-use space known as Uptown Station, that offers office, retail, and dining space.

  1. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in retail.

Fun fact: Downtown Baton Rouge has seen a transformation in the last few years to include several old buildings that now serve as hotels, office space, dining, and retail destinations.

  1. Lexington, Kentucky

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in healthcare, entertainment, and retail.

Fun fact: Home to the Distillery District, Lexington’s Manchester Street houses a handful of century-old distilleries that have been refurbished and now serve as restaurants, microbreweries, and shops.

  1. Miami, Florida

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in healthcare, entertainment, and retail.

Fun fact: The former warehouse district in Wynwood is now a thriving arts district with restaurants, bars, galleries, and museums.

  1. Jersey City, New Jersey

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in hospitality.

Fun fact: Jersey City’s Powerhouse building has been renovated in the last couple of years to become a mixed-use space housing galleries, shops, restaurants, and office space. The area surrounding it is a walkable arts community.

  1. Garland, Texas

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in retail and hospitality.

  1. Boston, Massachusetts

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in healthcare, food services, and retail.

  1. Anaheim, California

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in entertainment.

  1. Los Angeles, California

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in retail, hospitality, and education.

  1. Fremont, California

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in entertainment, food services, and retail.

  1. Tampa, Florida

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in healthcare, education, and food services.

  1. Durham, North Carolina

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in hospitality and entertainment.

  1. Irving, Texas

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in retail.

  1. Portland, Oregon

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in retail.

  1. Lincoln, Nebraska

Heavy commercial remodeling activity in retail.

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