Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 24th 2014 Contents faceted, it is not without its challenges. There are
a number of different factors that can cause land
to lay undeveloped or leave spaces uninhabited
including economic constraints, family disputes and
absentee landlordism. These challenges however are
Family disputes are the most difficult to manage,
but during the dispute there can be regulations to
ensure that the property is maintained. Community
groups provide support for those land owners who
are unable to afford the expenses of building a house.
The case of absentee landlords presents a unique
challenge since it assumes that the owner(s) of the
property have forgone their responsibilities to land
ownership and their interest is waned.
Government regulation is required in this instance
as laws could determine what parameters would
manage the proper care of land even to the point
of using eminent domain to lay claim to such spaces.
Reclaiming the abandoned and forgotten spaces of
our cities and town would be a testament to our
concern about the viability of our communities and
the preservation of our built heritage.
This article was submitted by a member
of the T&T Society of Planners
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JULY 2014 • WEEK FOUR
For decades, real estate trends in our
country have lent themselves to the
purchase of undeveloped land for the
building of a homestead.
This push towards development of greenfield
sites, however, calls another issue into question, as
the younger generation achieves the dream of building
their own homes, those of our older generations lay
uninhabited. Even though these houses and land
are no longer in use, they can be repurposed to
function in new capacities thereby alleviating some
demand for new commercial and residential devel-
opment to support the growing population.
Adaptive reuse is a term that refers to an old
building being used for a purpose different from its
original or intended use. Infill development follows
the same rules as adaptive reuse but it applies to
redevelopment of vacant (abandoned) lots.
The strategy of reusing neglected spaces have
been used sparingly for decades, but is a growing
trend for cities that want to address disproportionate
housing availability and encourage economic devel-
opment. When met with the problem of growing
populations, industrial buildings have been converted
to residential properties. Others have been converted
to live, work spaces to accommodate entrepreneurial
We have local examples of adaptive reuse as a
local economic development tool utilised to encourage
and restore community heritage and architectural
In the West, Port-of-Spain previously deteriorating
residential structures now house premium com-
mercial real estate. This influx of commercial activity
fostered further investment and the revitalisation
of the residential community.
Although this has created a conflict between the
commercial uses and the existing residential com-
munity, the economic investment in the community
has improved land values and access to public and
Dilapidated homes and vacant lots in existing
communities should be viewed as potential areas
for local economic development in a community.
The structure and its previous use only serve as
guide for a new use. Buildings erected in a certain
period have unique architectural details that reflect
historic and cultural information.
When the older structures are demolished in
favour of new ones, the continuity of the architecture
in the community is interrupted and with it the
cultural charm of a particular community perma-
nently altered. It is not to say that people cannot
build houses to suit their personal tastes, but the
use of existing structures can maintain the integrity
of a community s architectural history.
Adaptive reuse can also encourage the growth of
artisan industry in terms of the qualified people
required to repair and renovate heritage spaces. It
provides the opportunity to encourage the devel-
opment of craftsmen and masons to refurbish crum-
bling structures and the creation of a specialised
Although, the potential of adaptive reuse is multi-
T&T Society of Planners
Reclaim our spaces
In the West, Port-of-Spain
residential structures now
commercial real estate.
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