How Empty Offices Become Apartments In The U.S. | Summary and Q&A

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January 20, 1970
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CNBC
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How Empty Offices Become Apartments In The U.S.

TL;DR

Record-high office vacancies present an opportunity to convert unused office space into housing, but challenges such as zoning regulations and building layouts complicate the process.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why are many American offices sitting empty?

The COVID-19 pandemic and the shift towards remote work have caused a decrease in office usage, resulting in high office vacancies.

Q: What challenges do developers face when converting offices into apartments?

Developers must consider building layouts, access to light and air, plumbing lines, and the clear path to emptying out office tenants before converting offices.

Q: How do office vacancies affect cities financially?

Office vacancies lead to decreased tax revenue, which impacts government finances, including funding for schools and transit authorities.

Q: Can office-to-apartment conversions help address the housing shortage?

While conversions can provide additional housing, they are not a comprehensive solution. In hot housing markets like Denver or San Francisco, conversions may only address around 10% of the housing need.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • New York City alone has 94,000,000ft² of empty office space, prompting investors to consider office-to-apartment conversions.

  • Converting offices into apartments is not straightforward, as not all buildings are suitable for conversion and some cities have laws that make the process challenging.

  • Cities like Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia are leading the office conversion trend, but the cost of converted apartments remains high.

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