Special-purpose property is a type of real estate that serves only one purpose such as sports arenas, religious buildings, prisons, theaters, auditoriums, etc. Some of these properties may have similarities with industrial properties. However, people designed special-purpose properties to serve specific uses and it won’t be possible to repurpose them.

Sometimes these are also called special use properties. These have limited utilities, functions, and restrictions for certain use cases. For example, you can not use a cemetery or prison to host a dinner party. Because they have limited utilities or use cases and restrictions.

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There are four different types of real estate properties such as residential, commercial, industrial & special-purpose. Most of these properties are self-explanatory except for special-purpose. Also, these types of properties have some similarities in their nature. For example, some residential apartment buildings may have similarities with commercial buildings.

However, special-purpose properties are built with unique features & functionalities. For example, sports arenas have galleries, chairs, places for playing, etc. It will be hard to repurpose an arena for accommodation, watching movies, or something else. And this is how it becomes a special type of property.

Examples of special-purpose buildings

Prison, sports arena, stadium, mosque, church, pagoda, temple, synagogue, theater, auditorium, airport, park, cemetery, golf club, bowling alley, funeral home, cold storage & gas station; examples of special-use properties
Various special-purpose properties

Sometimes it can be hard to identify or sort out special-purpose properties or buildings. However, examples can help you to better understand them. Here I listed some of the examples below:

  • Prisons
  • Sports arenas & stadiums
  • Religious buildings like mosques, churches, pagodas, temples, synagogues, etc.
  • Theaters
  • Auditoriums
  • Airports
  • Amusement parks
  • Cemeteries
  • Golf clubs
  • Bowling alleys
  • Funeral homes
  • Cold storages
  • Gas stations
  • Swimming pools

These are concrete examples and are considered as special-purpose properties.

However, some properties have similarities between two or more types of property as I mentioned earlier. And it may seem confusing to some of you to identify whether it’s a commercial or special or something else. You can consider hospitals as an example.

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A hospital is very unique in its nature and purpose. In this context, you can consider it a special-purpose property. However, a hospital can be converted into a hotel or shopping mall (it has practical examples in many places). And in this context, you can consider hospitals as commercial property instead of special-purpose.

Like hospitals, other debatable properties have similarities between commercial & special-purpose. However, the context is important when it comes to identifying the type of a property.

Use cases of special-purpose properties

These properties have unique & dedicated use cases. These are specialized & tailored to serve very specific purposes. The table below shows some special use properties and their respective use cases.

PropertyUse Cases
PrisonsPunishment, rehabilitation, public safety, legal process, etc.
Sports arenas & stadiumsPlay & view the event.
Religious buildingsPray & practice religion.
TheatersEntertainment, live performances, cultural & artistic expression, cinemas, awards ceremonies, etc.
AuditoriumsThe speaker speaks and the audience hears the speech.
AirportsSpaces for aircraft takeoff and landing.
Common special use properties and their use cases

In the above table, you see that each of the properties has a unique & dedicated purpose for use cases. These are tailor-made with specialized features & functions. Also, none of these can be converted or repurposed.

How to find a maintenance contractor for your special-purpose property?

Like us, many property maintenance companies can take care of your special-purpose property. Of course, not all companies can handle all special-use properties. Also, all contractors are specifically location-based. For example, we provide services in Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and anywhere in Rhode Island.

So you have to search for contractors based on your property location and specification. For example, you can Google for property maintenance contractors based on your location and narrow it down further so the contractor can handle the property.

Additionally, you can use a “near me” search operator in your search term. It’s a local keyword (search operator) that works for every location. For example, if a person searches for “Pizza restaurants near me”, this will show the available nearest pizza restaurants.

narrow down search results using local keywords or search operator
Narrow down results using a search operator

When sorting out contractors, also look for their experience, past work history for the same type of property, etc. For more information about the vetting process, see this section of another post.

Where to buy and sell special-purpose properties?

Aside from the online portals & listing websites, you can also contact real estate professionals and brokers. LinkedIn is the best place to find them easily. But make sure you visit their office physically and don’t make any transactions online until you trust them.

Also, you can get help from the following 3 online marketplaces for commercial properties (they also deal with special-use properties as well):

  • LoopNet: Online marketplace for commercial property, listings for sale and lease in the United States.
  • CoStar: Provide comprehensive data & tools to make a wise decision in the real estate industry.
  • Crexi: Commercial Real Estate for buy, sale & lease.

Before you make any final decision, especially for buying, be sure to consult with an attorney.

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Wrap up

Special-purpose or special-use properties are real estate that have been built with unique features & functionalities to serve specific & dedicated purposes. Repurposing is almost impossible for this type of property. However, some of the commercial properties have similarities with this (special) type of property.

Sorting special properties can be confusing sometimes. However, if you look for a couple of concrete examples, it will make things clear.

Finding the right maintenance contractor for this type of property can be hard sometimes. Using a “near me” search operator will show you the nearest companies/contractors. From there you can narrow down further based on your property specification.

There are different online portals, marketplaces, professional networks, etc. for buying, selling & leasing special-use properties. However, you should consult with an attorney before making a final decision, especially for buying.

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