From Multifamily Executive:
Holly Wiedemann breathes new life into old, vacant buildings.
The founding principal and president of AU Associates in Lexington, Ky., Wiedemann revitalizes existing structures into affordable and mixed-income housing. Among the buildings her firm has transformed are a former tuberculosis hospital, a 100-year-old post office, and 11 historic schools.
While new construction and urban infill projects make up about 25 percent of AU’s work, adaptive-reuse properties are the company’s wheelhouse, at 75 percent of its portfolio.
AHF sat down with Wiedemann to learn how her company has thrived, and expanded, its business.
What makes the adaptive reuse of schools into affordable housing work?
Schools are wonderful buildings to recycle. They generally have generous hallways, high ceilings, abundant windows that create light-filled apartments, and are incredibly sturdy. Their usual layout is double-loaded corridors, which makes for a building that still retains a familiar old-school feel after it’s transformed.
We work diligently with the state historic preservation offices and the National Park Service to retain as many features as we can while still adhering to the energy-efficiency requirements of the housing finance authorities. Windows are always tricky, and I think our development result speaks for itself.
Most interesting item found in a building you were converting:
It’s hard to narrow it down. I have to share a few. The basement of our office headquarters has tree trunks, with the bark intact, that serve as beams. We traced the history of our property, and the earliest records we could find place it as being transferred in 1801. It was quite old then, so who knows who might have walked these same floors before Kentucky even became a state?