Have you noticed some of the empty office space around town? Office vacancies were at 16.6% as of September 2023. Compare those numbers to the national office vacancy rate, which was 17.8% as of September 2023. One possible use for vacant offices? Affordable housing.
Recently, the White House released a new plan to convert commercial buildings into residential housing — affordable housing in particular. Resources will be made available from 20+ programs across multiple agencies, including the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
How Portland is responding
In March, the Portland City Council approved incentives aimed at easing the cost of converting office spaces into housing units by lowering seismic retrofit standards and exempting developers from paying system development charges. Also important to note is that downtown Portland doesn’t require zoning changes for converting offices into apartments.
Developers are currently weighing the costs and benefits of converting office spaces and city leaders have estimated that less than 20 buildings in Portland are financially and structurally ready to be candidates. As of June, three buildings were under consideration — including one at 2121 SW Fourth Ave. PDXtoday has contacted the Bureau of Development Services for updated figures and is awaiting a response.
Which vacant spaces would you like to see converted?
Have you passed an empty office building that would be a sweet apartment? How about some empty warehouses near public transportation that would make for a quick commute?
Tell us which spaces you’d like to see remade into housing, and we may feature your picks in an upcoming newsletter.