Currently Reading

One out of three office buildings in largest U.S. cities are suitable for residential conversion

Multifamily Housing

One out of three office buildings in largest U.S. cities are suitable for residential conversion

Buildings constructed before 1990 with floor sizes below 15,000 sf considered best options.

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | May 23, 2023
One out of three office buildings in largest U.S. cities are suitable for residential conversion
Photo: Karl Solano via Pexels

Roughly one in three office buildings in the largest U.S. cities are well suited to be converted to multifamily residential properties, according to a study by global real estate firm Avison Young.

Some 6,206 buildings across 10 U.S. cities present viable opportunities for conversion to residential use. These buildings were built before 1990 with floor sizes below 15,000 sf, making them good candidates for conversion. Such properties are better suited for converting to apartments or condominiums than buildings with larger floor plans that are harder to divide into living spaces.

New York City, the largest U.S. office market at 975 million sf, has the most older buildings available at 1,698, according to Avison Young. Los Angeles is second with 1,212 and Chicago comes in third with 1,030.

The volume of conversions has risen considerably since 2016. A CBRE report last December showed 85 conversions underway this year, double those completed last year. In 2016, the there were 24 conversions.

Converting old office buildings to other uses has gained momentum since the Covid pandemic struck. Office utilization is at an average of 50% across major cities, according to a recent study by security technology firm Kastle Systems.

If that level of use persists, there will be more pressure to convert older offices, which generally operate less sustainably than new properties built to more stringent energy codes, for other purposes.

Related Stories

Multifamily Housing | Mar 19, 2024

Jim Chapman Construction Group completes its second college town BTR community

JCCG's 200-unit Cottages at Lexington, in Athens, Ga., is fully leased.

Multifamily Housing | Mar 19, 2024

Two senior housing properties renovated with 608 replacement windows

Renovation of the two properties, with 200 apartments for seniors, was financed through a special public/private arrangement.

MFPRO+ New Projects | Mar 18, 2024

Luxury apartments in New York restore and renovate a century-old residential building

COOKFOX Architects has completed a luxury apartment building at 378 West End Avenue in New York City. The project restored and renovated the original residence built in 1915, while extending a new structure east on West 78th Street. 

Multifamily Housing | Mar 18, 2024

YWCA building in Boston’s Back Bay converted into 210 affordable rental apartments

Renovation of YWCA at 140 Clarendon Street will serve 111 previously unhoused families and individuals.

Adaptive Reuse | Mar 15, 2024

San Francisco voters approve tax break for office-to-residential conversions

San Francisco voters recently approved a ballot measure to offer tax breaks to developers who convert commercial buildings to residential use. The tax break applies to conversions of up to 5 million sf of commercial space through 2030. 

Apartments | Mar 13, 2024

A landscaped canyon runs through this luxury apartment development in Denver

Set to open in April, One River North is a 16-story, 187-unit luxury apartment building with private, open-air terraces located in Denver’s RiNo arts district. Biophilic design plays a central role throughout the building, allowing residents to connect with nature and providing a distinctive living experience.

Affordable Housing | Mar 12, 2024

An all-electric affordable housing project in Southern California offers 48 apartments plus community spaces

In Santa Monica, Calif., Brunson Terrace is an all-electric, 100% affordable housing project that’s over eight times more energy efficient than similar buildings, according to architect Brooks + Scarpa. Located across the street from Santa Monica College, the net zero building has been certified LEED Platinum.

MFPRO+ News | Mar 12, 2024

Multifamily housing starts and permitting activity drop 10% year-over-year

The past year saw over 1.4 million new homes added to the national housing inventory. Despite the 4% growth in units, both the number of new homes under construction and the number of permits dropped year-over-year.

Affordable Housing | Mar 11, 2024

Los Angeles’s streamlined approval policies leading to boom in affordable housing plans

Since December 2022, Los Angeles’s planning department has received plans for more than 13,770 affordable units. The number of units put in the approval pipeline in roughly one year is just below the total number of affordable units approved in Los Angeles in 2020, 2021, and 2022 combined.

MFPRO+ Special Reports | Mar 6, 2024

Top 10 trends in senior living facilities for 2024

The 65-and-over population is growing faster than any other age group. Architects, engineers, and contractors are coming up with creative senior housing solutions to better serve this burgeoning cohort. 


More In Category


Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021