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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't know how many of you know about this, but there is a project going on in Bridgeport tranforming an old warehouse into one of the first vertical farms in the nation. They are almost up and running and it is really interesting to watch thier progress on thier blog. Here is the link. http://www.plantchicago.com/

I think if this works and is profitable, it could be the beginning of a rebirth of the blighted industrial areas of chicago. I don't see anything like this cropping up in NYC, just renders of massive vertical skyscrapers in the buisness district or on Mag Mile. That probably won't ever happen, but turning the stockyards into a sustainable agricultural powerhouse is something I can get behind.
 

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Nice, I've been interested in vertical farming for a long time (not to be a farmer there, just out of curiosity :D ). Good to see something finally come out of it. However, I don't share your pessimism on skyscraper-farms, I think that they'll become a reality, it's a matter of when, rather than if.
 

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Nice, I've been interested in vertical farming for a long time (not to be a farmer there, just out of curiosity :D ). Good to see something finally come out of it. However, I don't share your pessimism on skyscraper-farms, I think that they'll become a reality, it's a matter of when, rather than if.
No, I mean that it doesnt sound like a profitable model. I think adaptive reuse seems like it would be a much better model by which to create vertical farms. There are too many tall building in the industrial areas of cities.
 

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I was neighbors with the owner of that project; he's a terrific guy doing great work. When I talked to him about it several months ago, he mentioned that the best-case scenario they were looking at could give returns of (if I recall correctly) $10-12 per square foot -- exactly what assumptions and on what basis, I don't know. (Is that gross or net? Including what kind of overhead and labor? Electric and heat included?) He shared my surprise at such a figure, but it hardly matters in Bridgeport where loft space can be rented for $2/foot. Even if it's half as profitable as they think, he'll still come out ahead.

People who think there will be widespread urban farms in swanky mixed-use areas, much less purpose-built skyscrapers for this, are completely ignorant of those economics. Rent is a marginal cost for most businesses -- a lot of stores pay more in credit card fees than in rent -- and yet they pay $12-20/foot even in "edgy" neighborhoods. High-rise offices downtown charge over $30/foot in rent. Even better-located industrial lofts, like those near Chinatown, charge about $10/foot.

So while this is a promising reuse possibility for heavy-duty, fully depreciated industrial/retail structures, I wouldn't count on it expanding much beyond this particular niche of industrial adaptive reuse. If the buildings are already gone, as in much of Detroit, then it becomes a very capital intensive proposition and therefore not feasible.
 

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but it hardly matters in Bridgeport where loft space can be rented for $2/foot. Even if it's half as profitable as they think, he'll still come out ahead.
The building is located in the Back of Yards neighborhood, so rent is even cheaper than Bridgeport. That being said, John is getting a lot of mileage out of what PEER Foods left behind in the building, as well as student/volunteer work and his own handy dandy Industrial design know how.

He already has a few tenants lined up, with the first one (312 Aquaponics) moving into their space shortly. If I recall correctly he is looking at a building purchase+restoration+build out costs of around $25/sf for the building... pretty impressive.
 
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