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Abandoned Stadiums and Ghost Towns: Wasted Space That Could Be Monetized

National  + Weekender  | 

Built in 1936 for a specific event—the Summer Olympic Games—the Olympic Village outside Berlin has occasionally been repurposed to other uses over the decades. During the Second World War, it was used as an army hospital and infantry training school. In subsequent decades, the facility, located inside what was then Communist-controlled East Germany, was in the hands of the Soviets.

By and large, though, the 1936 Olympic Village has sat disused since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The land today is worth $895 million, and could have accommodated some 1,600 single-family homes at any time over the past eight decades, according to CompareTheMarket.com.

Although the site of the infamous “Nazi Games” is the highest-valued abandoned development of those analyzed by CompareTheMarket.com, it’s no anomaly in terms of wasted space. The UK-based firm studied 18 disused properties on five continents, from the partially demolished Astrodome in Houston (pictured) to a ghost town in Namibia that could accommodate up to 5,000 homes, 210 office properties or 29 schools.

While organized athletics may be a perennial of human existence, teams and venues are less permanent. Along with Olympic Village and the Astrodome, seven other sports facilities in CompareTheMarket.com’s study no longer serve any purpose.

The now-demolished Silverdome in Pontiac, MI, once the largest stadium in the NFL, hasn’t had a home team since the Detroit Lions moved their base of operations to Ford Field in their namesake city.

Malmo Stadion in Sweden was built to host the 1958 FIFA. It has been superseded by a newer facility. Between them, the Silverdome and Malmo Stadion parcels could accommodate 22 office buildings or more than 250 homes, according to CompareTheMarketcom’s analysis.

For the owners, whether public or private, the fact that these disused properties have sat idle for years means that they’re “letting the profits slip through their fingers,” according to CompareTheMarket.com.

Along with Olympic Village, second-ranked Kolmanskop in Namibia and fifth-ranked Malmo Stadion, the top-five roster of sites studied by CompareTheMarket.com is rounded out by Hardturm Stadium in Zurich and Nara Dreamland in Nara, Japan. The land value of these sites alone would be more than $1.7 billion.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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