Top 5 US Cities for Office-to-Residential Conversions

As more and more cities look to adapt vacant office buildings into homes, a new analysis from Urban Institute says some cities will benefit more than others.

1 minute read

June 7, 2024, 6:00 AM PDT

By Mary Hammon @marykhammon


Aerial view of downtown Seattle, Washington.

edb3_16 / Adobe Stock

A new analysis from the Urban Institute takes a look at which cities will get the biggest bang for their buck out of office to residential conversions. According to UI Research Associate Jorge González-Hermoso, facing unprecedented commercial vacancy rates and a national shortage of approximately four million homes, local governments across the country are incentivizing adaptive reuse of vacant offices into housing. “One estimate points to 58,000 new housing units currently being built in the US from repurposed office space,” he writes.

But just as some buildings are better suited than others to residential conversion (e.g., inoperable windows and larger floorplans that decrease window access), some cities stand to benefit more from conversion incentive policies than others.

To determine which, González-Hermoso built a conversation disposition index based on various factors illustrating office distress and housing supply need. According to his analysis, these five places are primed for office to residential conversion:

  1. San Mateo County, California
  2. Seattle
  3. Phoenix
  4. Atlanta
  5. San Francisco

The article also offers tips on how stakeholders can promote adaptive reuse of office space, including land-use reform, building code updates, streamlined permitting processes, and tax credits or abatements.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024 in Urban Wire

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