Throughout the years of strong economic growth after the Second World War, the real estate market was marked by the development of new buildings on previously „virgin“ (mainly agricultural) land. Since many years, however, we witness that economic and technological changes frequently lead to downsizing or even closing industrial and other companies leaving behind derelict brownfield areas. This is one of the reasons why keeping up existing uses (or finding new users) by prolonging the life and utilization of such land plots and buildings gains importance. Re-development of pre-used land and buildings  – even if the previous use was non-industrial – attracts more and more attention. 

The background for such re-development activities is not only a fundamental philosophy and resulting practical political and administrative strategies aiming at sustainable spatial planning by increased use of existing areas and more density within the existing urban structures. One of the main re-development targets is to maintain existing lands and buildings by adapting auch real estate (if necessary by comprehensive re-construction activities) to the demands of new users, thus preserving real estate values by avoiding or terminating threatenting or already existing vacancies resulting from a (continuing) process of decline of valuable assets.

For activities aimed at improving existing real estate by constructive and other measures, a number of terms are used, partly synonymously and without differentiation: recycling, redevelopment, revitalization, refurbishment, restructuring, relaunch and renovation. 

Based on a new handbook, published by gif (Gesellschaft für Immobilienwirtschaftliche Forschung – Real Estate Research Society) Germany under the headline „Redevelopment – Leitfaden für den Umgang mit vorgenutzten Grundstücken und Gebäuden“ („Guidelines for Dealing with Pre-used Land and Buildings“), the paper highlights the definition of the before-mentioned terms, names examples of real estate projects in different countries, and points out specific „traps“ of the re-development process as listed in the checklists of the gif handbook. The author of the paper was a member of the gif competence group which worked out the handbook.