Empty buildings often represent missed opportunities and wasted potential in urban landscapes. However, they also hold immense possibilities for creative entrepreneurs and innovative business ventures.
This article delves into the exciting world of repurposing vacant spaces, highlighting a range of business ideas that can breathe life back into empty buildings. From transforming them into coworking hubs and vibrant retail experiences to hosting art galleries and eco-friendly ventures, we will explore how entrepreneurs can leverage these dormant spaces to create thriving businesses.
Discover how empty buildings can be catalysts for economic growth, community development, and the realization of unique entrepreneurial visions.
15 Business Ideas for Empty Buildings
1. Fitness Center
Empty buildings can find a new lease on life by becoming fitness centres. The global health and fitness industry is flourishing, with a market value of approximately $96.7 billion in the United States alone in 2023, and it’s projected to continue growing at a steady pace.
Converting an empty building into a fitness centre provides a valuable service to the community while tapping into a lucrative market. It also generates employment opportunities. On average, a fitness centre can employ around 12 to 15 staff members per 1,000 members, contributing to job creation and stimulating local economies.
2. Coworking Space
Coworking spaces in empty buildings are more than just a trend; they’re a transformation of the way we work. The coworking industry was valued at $9.27 billion in 2023, projected to reach $11.52 billion by 2025. Businesses and freelancers are increasingly seeking flexible workspaces. Converting an empty building into a coworking space can have a significant economic impact.
In addition to providing workspace, these spaces encourage networking and collaboration, fostering innovation. They also support job creation—on average, each coworking space generates about 77 jobs. Furthermore, the vibrant atmosphere of coworking spaces can stimulate the growth of nearby businesses, such as cafes and restaurants.
3. Art Studios
Empty buildings can become vibrant art studios, fueling the creative economy. The economic contribution of the arts and culture sector is substantial, with a global market value of approximately $4.9 trillion in 2023.
Converting abandoned structures into art studios not only provides space for artists to work and display their creations but also attracts tourists and art enthusiasts, driving foot traffic to the area. The presence of art studios can boost property values and stimulate the growth of complementary businesses.
Moreover, art studios can contribute to community development and cohesion. A single art studio can host art classes, exhibitions, and events, creating a hub for culture and creativity.
4. Indoor Mini Golf or Bowling Alley
Empty buildings have the potential to transform into family-friendly entertainment centres. Indoor mini-golf and bowling alleys offer recreational opportunities for people of all ages, from kids to adults. The leisure and hospitality industry is a significant player in the economy, with an estimated global market size of over $7.6 trillion.
Converting an empty building into an indoor mini-golf or bowling alley can tap into this lucrative market. Furthermore, these attractions often have a robust local draw, with statistics showing that over 50% of visitors come from within 10 miles.
Such businesses can boost local tourism and stimulate the growth of nearby eateries and shops. Additionally, they create job opportunities in the community, particularly for young people and part-time workers.
5. Indoor Sports Facility
The popularity of sports is universal, making indoor sports facilities a promising business idea for empty buildings. Globally, the sports industry’s market size was estimated at approximately $471 billion in 2023.
Converting a vacant structure into an indoor sports facility offers a space for athletes to train, compete, and improve their skills. These facilities often host a range of sports, from soccer and basketball to volleyball and tennis, catering to various interests. Beyond sports enthusiasts, these spaces can become hubs for local sports clubs and school teams.
Indoor sports facilities can also be rented for events, further enhancing their economic potential. Not to mention the positive impact on public health by providing accessible sports opportunities to the community.
6. Event Venue
Empty buildings can find a new purpose as event venues, creating spaces for people to celebrate life’s milestones. The event industry is substantial, with the global market estimated at approximately $1.1 trillion. Converting an empty building into an event venue opens up opportunities for hosting weddings, corporate events, parties, and cultural gatherings.
Event venues often support a network of local vendors, including caterers, decorators, photographers, and more. They can also draw people from outside the immediate area, contributing to tourism and local businesses.
Additionally, these venues create employment opportunities, ranging from event planners and coordinators to waitstaff and security personnel. Event venues are more than just spaces; they are where cherished memories are made.
Empty buildings have the potential to become thriving hubs of creativity and innovation through the creation of maker spaces. The global makerspace market has been on a steady rise, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.4% between 2023 and 2026.
Converting an empty building into a maker space provides individuals with access to tools, equipment, and resources for DIY projects, invention, and exploration. These spaces encourage knowledge sharing, skill development, and community engagement.
Makerspaces have the power to nurture the next generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, and problem solvers. Moreover, they often offer membership models, workshops, and classes, generating revenue and contributing to the local economy.
8. Restaurant or Café
Empty buildings can become gastronomic gems by transforming into restaurants or cafes. The global restaurant industry was valued at approximately $2.3 trillion in 2023, and it’s anticipated to grow steadily.
Opening a restaurant or cafe in a vacant structure offers not only delicious food but also creates employment opportunities and bolsters the local economy. These establishments often rely on local suppliers, contributing to the growth of nearby farms and producers.
Restaurants and cafes can also serve as community gathering spaces and enhance the overall dining experience through unique architecture and ambience. Beyond their culinary appeal, they are essential components of local culture and hospitality.
9. Storage Facility
Empty buildings can serve as a solution to the ever-growing demand for storage space. The global self-storage market is booming, with a projected CAGR of 5.4% between 2023 and 2025. Converting an empty building into a storage facility allows individuals and businesses to securely store their belongings, inventory, or equipment.
These facilities offer various unit sizes, climate-controlled options, and security features. The growth of e-commerce and the trend of downsizing have contributed to the increasing demand for storage. An empty building repurposed into a storage facility can generate a stable source of income, and with proper management, it can have a low vacancy rate.
Additionally, it creates job opportunities in property management and maintenance.
10. Indoor Market
Empty buildings can be transformed into bustling indoor markets, supporting local artisans and entrepreneurs. Markets have always been central to commerce, and they continue to thrive in modern times.
The global flea market and swap meet industry alone is valued at over $30 billion. Converting an empty building into an indoor market provides a platform for local vendors to sell their goods, whether it’s handcrafted jewellery, fresh produce, or vintage clothing.
These markets often attract visitors from the surrounding area, boosting foot traffic and local business. They foster a sense of community and can even promote tourism, making them a valuable addition to any neighbourhood.
11. Coworking for Specific Industry
Empty buildings can be customized into coworking spaces specifically designed for particular industries. The coworking sector is diversifying to meet the unique requirements of different professions.
Coworking for specific industries, such as tech, fashion, or healthcare, has gained momentum. These tailored spaces provide specialized resources and networking opportunities, fostering innovation and collaboration. For instance, tech-focused coworking spaces can include labs and prototyping equipment, while fashion-focused spaces may offer sewing machines and design studios.
The industry-specific coworking trend aligns with the increasing demand for niche work environments, and its growth potential is evident in the fact that the global flexible office space market size was valued at $28.68 billion in 2023.
12. Vintage or Antique Store
Empty buildings can be reimagined as vintage or antique stores, preserving the past for future generations. The global antique and used goods market was estimated to be worth over $105 billion in 2023, and it continues to hold a strong position.
Transforming an empty structure into a vintage or antique store provides a unique shopping experience, allowing customers to discover treasures from bygone eras. These stores often attract collectors, interior decorators, and nostalgia-seekers.
Moreover, they contribute to the reuse and recycling of valuable historical items, promoting sustainability. Vintage and antique stores can create a distinct ambience and aesthetic, enhancing the character of a neighbourhood.
13. Brewery or Distillery
Empty buildings can be transformed into thriving breweries or distilleries, where the art of crafting beer, spirits, and unique beverages takes centre stage. The global alcoholic beverage industry is substantial, with the craft beer segment alone valued at over $140 billion in 2023.
Converting an empty structure into a brewery or distillery offers the opportunity to produce artisanal and distinct alcoholic products. These establishments often draw visitors for tours, tastings, and events, contributing to local tourism and business growth. Additionally, breweries and distilleries generate employment opportunities, from master brewers and distillers to marketing and sales personnel. The craft beverage movement showcases the potential for success in this industry.
14. Art Gallery
Empty buildings can become vibrant art galleries, showcasing local or contemporary art and fostering cultural appreciation. The global art market was estimated at over $50 billion in 2023, and it continues to thrive. Transforming an empty structure into an art gallery not only offers a platform for artists to exhibit their work but also attracts art enthusiasts and tourists, boosting foot traffic in the area.
Art galleries can enhance property values and stimulate the growth of complementary businesses, such as cafes and framing shops. They are essential hubs for cultural exchange and community engagement, enriching the fabric of the neighbourhood and contributing to the local art scene.
15. Indoor Playground
Empty buildings can be transformed into indoor playgrounds, creating safe and entertaining spaces for children to play and learn. The global indoor play centre market is growing steadily, with an expected CAGR of 7.3% between 2023 and 2026.
Converting an empty building into an indoor playground is not just about fun; it’s about child development. These spaces often feature activities like climbing structures, ball pits, and educational play zones. Indoor playgrounds offer a haven for parents and caregivers looking for an indoor escape, particularly in inclement weather.
They can host birthday parties and group events, creating additional revenue streams. Furthermore, they contribute to children’s physical and cognitive development and provide a valuable service to the community.
Empty buildings have the potential to be transformed into thriving business ventures that not only bring economic benefits but also contribute to the revitalization of communities. By repurposing these spaces into innovative coworking hubs, enticing food and beverage establishments, unique retail experiences, art galleries, and eco-friendly businesses, entrepreneurs can tap into untapped potential and create vibrant destinations.
The possibilities are limitless, and with careful planning, creativity, and determination, these empty buildings can become catalysts for entrepreneurial success and community development.
It depends on various factors such as zoning regulations, building codes, and the condition of the building. It is crucial to research and consult with local authorities to ensure compliance and determine the feasibility of starting a business in a specific empty building.
Securing financing for building renovations can be done through various means such as traditional bank loans, private investors, crowdfunding, or government grants. It is essential to create a comprehensive business plan and financial projections to present to potential lenders or investors, showcasing the viability and profitability of your business venture.
Absolutely! When aiming for sustainability, considerations may include energy-efficient renovations, utilizing renewable energy sources, incorporating eco-friendly materials, implementing waste reduction strategies, and adopting green business practices. Conducting an environmental impact assessment and seeking guidance from sustainability experts can help ensure your business aligns with sustainable principles.
Effective marketing and promotion strategies are vital to attract customers to your business. Utilize various channels such as social media, online advertising, local partnerships, and community engagement initiatives. Additionally, focus on creating a unique and memorable customer experience, offering exceptional products or services, and leveraging the distinct charm of your building’s transformation to draw attention and curiosity.