flexiblefullpage - default
Currently Reading

How Feasible Are Office-to-Residential Conversions?

billboard - default
New-Construction Projects

How Feasible Are Office-to-Residential Conversions?

Transforming empty office spaces into affordable housing units requires significant funding and large-scale construction, but in a worsening affordability crisis, experts say those efforts are more than worth it

July 26, 2023
Exterior of office buildings in city looking up to sky
Image: aiisha / stock.adobe.com

Multifamily construction has reached a 50-year high, but according to Dwell, the majority of newly constructed units remain unaffordable. One potential solution is adaptive reuse housing development in the form of office conversions. The rise of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic left an elevated share of commercial office spaces empty, and as work-from-home becomes a more permanent alternative for many Americans, those spaces currently serve little purpose. Turning them into affordable housing not only gives new life to otherwise abandoned buildings, but it also creates a much-needed solution to a worsening housing crisis. 

But just how feasible are office-to-residential conversions?

Sheryl Schulze, a principal at architecture and planning firm Gensler, has been studying such office-to-residential conversions in cities like Calgary, where in 2020, the firm led a conversion feasibility study of downtown class B and C office properties. They developed an algorithm that quickly evaluates and ‘scores’ building qualities and metrics that present challenges to conversions—large floor plate sizes that make it difficult to divide into apartments with adequate light; facade challenges due to inoperable windows; inadequate parking, if it is required, and more. 

Transforming these buildings into affordable housing will be costly with required subsidies to keep those apartments affordable, and expensive retrofitting only adds to that cost. Schulze believes that private-public partnerships can ease the burden.

Read more


leaderboard2 - default

Related Stories

High-Performance Homes

Debunking 6 Common Myths About Passive House Design

Building homes to Passive House standards could be a game-changer for decarbonizing housing and providing much-needed homes. What’s holding it back?

Build to Rent

Single-Family Rent Growth Remains Elevated, Despite Dip in Multifamily Rental Rates

Multifamily rent growth, specifically, is decelerating since its year-over-year peak of +16.3% in 2022, but in many markets, single-family rents are continuing to rise

Sales + Marketing Trends

Brand Loyalty and Why Builders Should Think Like a Hospitality Brand

Whether its offering that personal touch or incorporating experiences into amenity use, home builders have something to learn from the hospitality industry

boombox1 -
native1 - default
halfpage2 -

More in Category

Home builders can maximize efficiencies gained through simplification and standardization by automating both on-site and back-office operations 

Delaware-based Schell Brothers, our 2023 Builder of the Year, brings a refreshing approach to delivering homes and measuring success with an overriding mission of happiness

NAHB Chairman's Message: In a challenging business environment for home builders, and with higher housing costs for families, the National Association of Home Builders is working to help home builders better meet the nation's housing needs

native2 - default
halfpage1 -

Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.

Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.