Strengthening Communities: The Impact of Repurposed Materials

AUTHORED BY COLE STERR

Innovation has always been at the forefront of UP’s agenda. Whether we’re developing a new property or giving back to the community, strengthening communities and exercising a forward-thinking dynamic to the industry sets us apart.

One unique example of channeling innovation is UP’s interest in repurposing materials when developing or repositioning projects. Let’s look at some key – and cool – examples of properties where those materials have been, or are currently being, transformed to enrich a building’s aesthetic.

Overlap of Organizational Impact

Take the Be The Match (BTM) headquarters in the North Loop, for example. Three tables within the BTM building were able to be repurposed from fallen trees by Wood from the Hood (WFTH), a local business that reclaims discarded trees from urban neighborhoods to create “beautiful, high-quality wood products.” One of which is a 42-foot Silver Maple conference table in the employee gathering space (pictured below). The other two tables are located in another gathering space and the 5th Street Station restaurant.

Repurposed conference table in Be The Match
Repurposed 42′ Silver Maple conference table in BTM. Photo courtesy of WFTH

Kristine Fisher, the Director of Facilities Management and Real Estate for BTM, explains that the recommendation to use recycled materials for the property came from the interior architect. Supporting a local business with a purposeful cause seemed like the perfect choice for BTM, an organization that also has major influence and acts for the greater good of humanity. Collaboration between the two companies resonates well with the space as the repurposed wood complements the interior of the building, as well as the mission of the national marrow donor program.

WFTH is an innovative way to utilize trees that might otherwise go to waste. This creative, local business even crafted wood products from fallen trees from the 2011 North Minneapolis tornado. With their work, they are able to decrease urban waste and raise consumer awareness about tree removal. WFTH also supplies green materials to builders and architects to potentially strengthen the communities where these trees once lived.

A more detailed look at Wood from the Hood’s work can be seen on their website.

Maintaining Historic Charm

Other UP developments have ties to repurposed materials, too.

At the Nordic construction site, old printing plates were discovered and will now be displayed as art in the front lobby of the WELL-registered building. This discovery will add character and historical flavor to the multi-tenant establishment.

At the Kickernick Building, described as a “diamond in the rough” by VP of Construction Management Bill Jundt, hidden gems continue to be uncovered throughout its construction process. Built in 1896 and previously a women’s lingerie factory, all the wood is currently being returned to its original luster. Repurposing the building itself and exposing its original materials will strengthen its overall aesthetic and foster a stronger working community.

A Repurposed Purpose

Repurposing materials can be seen in different ways, as well.

Before United Properties began developing The Venue in Chanhassen, the former Frontier Building Center that occupied the site in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s supplied lumber to construct homes and establishments throughout the city. Throughout its time there, the Frontier Building Center strengthened the Chanhassen community with its lumberyard, multi-tenant leasing, and entertainment venues.

Last April, the Chanhassen Fire Department and the Tri-City SWAT Team received permission from United Properties to use the space for a different purpose than what it was once known for: law enforcement training. To simulate realistic situations and scenarios, the two teams conduct training sessions in buildings that will eventually be demolished. In this case, the Frontier Building Center was repurposed to accommodate their training needs and ultimately strengthen Chanhassen.

The in-process Venue Apartments will now take over as the land’s main tenant, sitting on land that has left a lasting legacy to the city of Chanhassen.

The Impact

The commitment to repurposing materials has profound impact on the communities where we live and work; it’s more than just reusing materials for a new development. It’s about preserving memories, enhancing historic charm, supporting local businesses, protecting the environment, and of course, strengthening our communities.