“Dark windows. Quiet lobbies. Hushed halls.” These opening lines of a New York Times article from April 2021 describe once-thriving offices in downtown New York. At the start of the pandemic, offices nationwide shuttered and we entered the era of remote work. The article suggests residential housing could come from commercial office conversions. Ideally, such office conversions would help solve the affordable housing crisis and put those “dark, quiet, hushed” buildings to good use.
It sounds like a smart plan, but it hasn’t happened, at least not on a meaningful scale. And it doesn’t look like office conversions to affordable housing are in many developers’ plans. The conversion solution is creative, but it just doesn’t work. This article looks at why commercial buildings aren’t going to solve the housing crisis and what is happening to unused offices spaces instead.
We’ll also show you some housing solutions that actually work (and are happening now).