The White House upgrades office-to-residential conversions with new resources

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Diving brief:

  • The Biden administration on Friday threw its support behind efforts to achieve this Converting empty commercial buildings into housingAnnouncing new federal resources to support commercial-to-residential conversion projects.
  • New funding, technical assistance and guidance for states, localities, transportation agencies and developers are among the new resources. The US General Services Administration will also expand efforts to Sale of empty federal buildings Which can be repurposed into housing.
  • Job vacancies in the United States Inflation reached a 30-year high of 18.2% in the second quarter of 2023, negatively impacting local economies, according to the White House. She said converting these buildings into housing could alleviate the affordable housing crisis, and if done with the climate in mind, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Insight Diving:

The high vacancy rate in commercial properties is a A persistent symptom of the Covid-19 pandemic, which “forced Americans to change the way they live and work, with ripple effects felt throughout the economy,” according to the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers. American employees now go to the office 30% less than they did before the pandemic, About 3.5 days a week.

This trend has It took its toll On the companies that the workers in those offices were supporting, From restaurants and stores to dry cleaners and hair salons. Many cities like Seattle And San Francisco, devised their own strategies to revitalize the withering downtown. The number of adaptive reuse projects in the multifamily pipeline in the United States has reached an all-time high, with office-to-multifamily conversion making up the majority of multifamily units under construction.

However, converting offices into residences is more complex than replacing desks with beds. Office building design is not always suitable To logical apartment layouts with adequate natural light. Plumbing and HVAC systems are often not set up to serve multiple residential units. Some commercial developers also complained about this Conversion projects face government obstaclesincluding zoning and environmental regulations.

It includes a new federal effort to support conversion from commercial to residential A guide to available federal resourcesIncluding low interest Loans, loan guarantees, grants and tax incentives. The White House plans to hold Training workshops This fall, local and state governments, along with private sector players, will learn how to use the federal programs identified by the guide. The White House is encouraging State, local, tribal, and territorial governments to identify public tools and land disposition opportunities to support conversion projects.

Several federal agencies issued topic-specific guidance on adaptive reuse as part of the announcement. The Ministry of Energy launched a Toolkit for creating zero-emission housing of commercial buildings, instead The Department of Transport issued the directive on How states, localities and developers can fund Conversation projects Close to transportation with two existing federal programs: the Transportation Infrastructure and Innovation Funding Act and the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Funding programs.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will increase Communication efforts with municipalities and developers We look forward to using HUD tools to fund transfers. The White House highlighted several HUD grant programs that could be used for conversions, including Community Development Block Grants, the Removing Barriers to Housing Pathways program and research-related grants available to develop case studies that can help other localities better plan conversion projects.

The White House noted in its announcement on Friday that the American Planning Association is Expand its work With planning directors in the nation’s 30 largest cities to include new programs for commercial-to-residential conversions. Plus, The National Association of Counties works with counties Pursue commercial-to-residential conversion projects to develop a policy paper for county officials interested in pursuing similar efforts.

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