Sector Update: 

INFILL

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© Copyright 2017 by MP Media, LLC

After weighing the potential complications, developers may shy away from adaptive 
reuse. Therefore, many cities are offering creative and flexible incentives that work 
beyond rigid code standards to help projects succeed. 

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 “The incentives can be financial 

or through processing, like finding ways to expedite permits,” Baugh says.  For example, 
the City of Phoenix offers a maximum of $7,000 to offset fees for eligible projects. 

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 “It 

takes a lot of massaging to work; you have to have an appetite for brain damage,” he 
laughs. “It’s not for the faint of heart, but for those that thrive in those tough situations 
– the rewards are tremendous.”

infill and adaptive land reuse are becoming an increasingly popular option for developers. 
For landlocked cities such as Tempe, often the only options are to tear a building down 
or re-purpose the old. 

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 Land infill is utilizing vacant land surrounded by properties for 

development, while adaptive reuse is the process of taking a building and repurposing 
it. Both offer environmental and social benefits and can potentially save a developer 
a vast amount of time. However, potential complications are often not evident to the 
naked eye and they can be mentally exhausting and sometimes downright impossible 
to maneuver. 

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 Land use and zoning attorney, Adam Baugh provides his insight to 

Commercial Executive Magazine on aiding builders and preparing for the unexpected. 

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“Preserving a part of the city has significant value, whether that is socially, or historically;  
people are drawn to that,” Baugh says. 

• It bypasses the wasteful process of 

demolition and reconstruction and 
the buildings are often re-built with 
energy-saving features
 like LED, 
solar, recycling and window glazing.  

• The most common reuse projects 

are restaurant and lifestyle center 
conversions. Baugh was the zoning 
and land use attorney for The Colony 
and The Yard on 7th. “People linger 
longer because there are games to be 
played,” Baugh says. “They want to 
experience that unique and creative 
transformation." 

• The reused buildings have novelty 

and offer a feeling of nostalgia 
for visitors that identify with it 
from their memories of its former 
use. Because no two buildings 
are alike when they are being 
repurposed, there is typically no stale 
repetitiveness in terms of design.  

• It offers great uncertainty and can 

be gruesomely time-consuming
therefore, it is essential for 
developers to do their due diligence.    

• “The cons are real and they’re 

challenging,” Baugh says. “It can be 
easy to deliver a project out in the 
suburbs, but give me a quarter-acre 
parcel in the heart of the city and 
you can have issues with neighbors, 
access, parking, code compliance, 
drainage, CC&Rs or political issues.” 

• Old buildings may have deed 

restrictions against commercial 
uses, or they may not have the 
structural engineering for it. 

• The No. 1 issue is often the 

neighbors. They may oppose the 
project or steer it in a different 
direction.

ADAM BAUGH

 

Land Use & Zoning Attorney

Incentives

As many 

of our 

cities are 

becoming 

denser,