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San Francisco seeks proposals for adaptive reuse of underutilized downtown office buildings

Multifamily Housing

San Francisco seeks proposals for adaptive reuse of underutilized downtown office buildings

The initiative builds on effort to make office conversion projects faster and easier.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor  | July 25, 2023
Photo by KEHN HERMANO, Pexels
Photo by KEHN HERMANO, Pexels

The City of San Francisco released a Request For Interest to identify office building conversions that city officials could help expedite with zoning changes, regulatory measures, and financial incentives.

The city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development and Planning Departments are seeking responses from downtown building owners and sponsors on proposals to convert underused commercial space into housing or other uses. The announcement identifies “office-to-housing” projects as a particular interest, but responses may include conversions of non-residential floor area for other uses.

This is San Francisco’s latest step in an effort to revitalize its downtown in a post Covid-environment where office space is underused while formerly downtown-based employees work from home part-time or full time.

The city recently sponsored a study on how to boost vitality in its financial district. The panel that undertook the study offered recommendations including:

  • Creating downtown destination zones through ground-plane activation to help transform public spaces and empty storefronts into city attractions.
  • Reducing and restructuring businesses taxes, including the gross receipts tax, commercial rents tax, CEO tax, and transfer tax.
  • Providing incentives for office-to-residential conversions to tackle the housing shortage.
  • Offering other incentives, such as impact-fee waivers and property tax abatement, as well as reducing zoning and building code barriers to adaptive reuse projects.

City officials are also working on an adaptive reuse roadmap for architects, builders, and developers to adapt projects to current building codes and planned revamped codes.

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