Plans to redevelop the Cooperage, a 19th-century barrel-making factory in Buffalo, N.Y., stalled out in November due to a lack of funding.
In our floundering economy, hundreds of development projects have been put on hold due to a lack of funding. This week, the AIA launched Stalled Projects, an online database to help those projects find potential financers. Call it the Match.com of the built environment: the site enables architects and their clients to post information on projects in need of capital, and investors to post how much capital they’re willing to inject.
Nine stymied projects are already listed on the site, including a market building in Minneapolis, a green-roofed house outside Portland, Ore., and a hotel in Tampa, Fl. There are both new developments and renovations of existing structures, such as the Cooperage, a 44,000-square-foot Buffalo, N.Y. factory that was used to automate barrel-making during late-19th and early-20th centuries. Developer Newark Niagara is hoping to convert the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, into 20 mixed-use brick-and-beam lofts. The stabilization and site preparation is nearly completed, and there are no zoning issues. All that’s missing is an investor who can front $6.6 million, 10 percent of the project’s total cost.
One of the two investors that have registered on the site is Metrus Energy, a San Francisco-based firm that finances energy-efficient retrofits. Metrus is among the companies participating in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Initiative, a plan launched in February to make the nation’s commercial buildings 20 percent more energy-efficient over the next decade. The other registered financer is the Samuelson Company, based in China’s Sichuan Province. Created to finance the construction of factories and facilities in China, the group now also represents Chinese clients eager to invest in U.S. projects. Both groups have $10 million in potential capital available.
The AIA made the commitment to launch the database at a June 2011 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative dedicated to job creation. In a video on the project’s homepage, AIA president Clark Manus, FAIA, says, “Despite the reluctance of traditional banks to lend, unconventional sources of financing are indeed interested.” Find more information at the Stalled Projects homepage. To post a project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.