Can Cities Transform ‘Dead Downtowns’ by Converting Offices Into Apartments?

The Washington Post’s editorial board lately commented on the issue of America’s “lifeless downtowns. Tourists are again, however workplace staff are nonetheless lacking in motion…. [R]estaurants, espresso hangouts, shops and transit programs can not maintain themselves with out extra folks in heart cities….”The drawback? America “is within the midst of one of many largest workforce shifts in generations: Many now have skilled what it’s prefer to make money working from home and have found they like it.” Their proposed answer? The Post’s editorial board is urging cities to adapt to the brand new actuality of staff eager to work two or three days remotely partly by changing industrial workplaces to flats and leisure venues.

The aim is a “24/7” downtown with ample work areas, flats, parks and leisure venues that draw folks in through the day and have a core of residents who maintain the realm vibrant after commuters go house…. Office use is not going again to pre-pandemic ranges. Even Texas cities that didn’t shut down through the worst of the pandemic are 20 to 30 p.c beneath 2019 workplace occupancy. New York, Los Angeles and D.C. are nonetheless down greater than 40 p.c. This a traditional oversupply drawback. Cities have an excessive amount of workplace area, particularly within the older buildings that firms are fleeing as they search out new development with extra gentle and versatile area.Mayors and metropolis lawmakers have purpose to be daring in seizing this chance. There’s rising curiosity amongst builders and buyers who wish to be part of the office-to-apartment revolution. They are already eyeing the simplest buildings to transform: The ones with elevators within the center, home windows and light-weight on all sides, and the precise size and width. The problem for metropolis leaders is to generate curiosity within the buildings which are “possibly” candidates for conversion. The Post’s recommendations embrace saying targets for brand spanking new residents dwelling downtown, and dashing up metropolis approvals like allowing and rezoning. “America’s cities are ripe for brand spanking new skylines and recent streetscapes. The greatest leaders will get going quickly.”

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