The COVID-19 Pandemic has had a significant impact on the Hospitality, Hotel, and Retail sectors since mid-2020. This has presented some interesting opportunities for savvy developers and creative real estate investors. Converting hotels/motels into multi-family residential projects is an example of the process called “Adaptive Reuse.”

Recent research has shown that the hotel industry has a long road to recovery, and rates are projected to still be down approximately 20% in 2023. This will create and present many acquisition scenarios for those groups able to reposition themselves to this up-and-coming market sector.

People are traveling less and less these days, trying to save money for the uncertain short-term future. We all still require a roof over our heads. To that end, we here at Baker Barrios Architects have joined forces with T2 Capital Management, a private real estate company from Wheaton IL, to take on two such opportunities in the Central Florida market. The first three things to consider when taking on a conversion project are:

1) The hotel’s existing amenities: (Pool, commercial space, café/restaurant areas, fitness centers, etc.) How can these best be used to complement the new residential development and expand on the resident experience?
2) Room amenities: (Room sizes, kitchenettes) will offer a variety of unit plan options.
3) Financing: Some sellers may be willing to help with creative financing options to lessen their own burden.


Case Study: West Bay Village, Kissimmee, FL.

As architects and interior designers, we considered the physical infrastructure of the existing building to achieve the clients desired pro forma. Our design team researched and visited the site and existing building to assess conditions and come up with a plan on how best to achieve our client’s goals.

The BBA team came up with a unit mix that would utilize the space most efficiently.

Several site visit and observations were needed to understand existing structural and MEP systems. This allowed the design team to weigh the impact of replacing vs. updating/refurbishing existing systems. MEP efficiencies were lacking due to age of building and changes in building codes had to be taken into consideration when evaluating these budgetary decisions.

Hotel Room conversion into residential apartment units may require extensive and/or expensive interior renovations, taking into considerations current building and life safety codes.

One of the most important aspects for the entire team was to understand the target market or clientele our client was expecting to attract. The target demographic of the occupants will generally dictate the creation of the appropriate amenity spaces to be offered as well as style of units and type of finishes to be selected while still maintaining a budget conscious design solution.

This is just one example of our adaptive reuse process in action. This was a very tight budget project, as well as a very aggressive schedule. Thus far the entire team efforts have been very successful, and we are getting ready to take on the next challenge with our client.

By: David J. Del Tosto, AIA, NCARB & Virginia Larrea, NCARB, NCIDQ, LEEED AP