Paper Series Sheds Light On Adaptive Reuse

A series of reports from Berkeley's Terner Center assess the potential of commercial-to-residential conversions to help ease the housing crisis.

November 23, 2021, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


View of the National Biscuit Company Building, 1850 Industrial Street, Los Angeles from the corner of Mateo Street. It has been renovated into lofts, with a restaurant on the ground floor.

The National Biscuit Company Building has been renovated into lofts, with a restaurant on the ground floor. | Downtowngal / View of the National Biscuit Company Building, Los Angeles

The University of California, Berkeley's Terner Center for Housing Innovation has released "a series of reports that explore the potential for commercial land to be converted to residential use" which could guide planners and officials in adapting underutilized land to new uses and increasing housing options.

As more cities implement policies designed to encourage commercial conversions and high-density housing development, the reports identify "possible and profitable" conversion types, estimate how many new units redevelopment could add, and assess the potential and limitations of rezoning as a solution for skyrocketing housing costs. "The housing crisis, an ongoing transition from brick-and-mortar retail to e-commerce, and a growing utilization of telework have contributed to the mounting popularity of this solution," the article notes.

The papers include an inventory of commercially zoned land, a paper estimating the potential impact of conversions on housing supply, and a report on residential adaptive reuse

Friday, October 29, 2021 in Terner Center for Housing Innovation

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