The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way people work, and major U.S.
cities are struggling to get their business districts back on track.
As a result, cities are turning offices into apartments to attract workers back in-person.
In Washington DC, Gary Cohen’s grandfather bought the first high-rise office building in the area almost 60 years ago, and soon it will become the first high-rise multi-family residential building in the business district.
The office market was already struggling before Covid-19 hit, and now office attendance is less than half of what it was pre-pandemic.
In response, some of the largest metro areas are converting office buildings into residential units.
The Golden Triangle, which includes 34 million square feet of office space, only has 36 residential units, and building vacancy in the area is at a historic high of 22 percent.
Remote work is here to stay, and cities need new revenue streams, which is why the mayor of DC has announced plans for an abatement program to incentivize office to apartment building conversions.
The L Apartments project, owned by Cohen, is one of five office to residential conversions happening in the Golden Triangle.
After a three-year vacancy, the building will have 163 residential units and 8,000 square feet of retail space, catching the eye of DC’s mayor.
However, there are challenges to converting an office building into an apartment space, such as the need for new plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems, which can cost millions of dollars.
Despite the challenges, Cohen believes the costs are worth it, as buildings are coming full circle, and where people work continues to affect where they live.