Aug 17, 2022 - Business

Downtown Dallas office space is being converted into housing

A photo of the downtown Dallas skyline
Photo: HUM Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Developers are converting millions of square feet of office buildings into residential units in an effort to fill empty space in Downtown Dallas.

Why it matters: Dallas is competing with the broader North Texas region to attract employers and residents alike — and reimagining the city's core plays a big role in that effort.

Driving the news: One of the most recently announced renovation projects will convert multiple floors of the Santander Tower — previously known as Thanksgiving Tower — into 228 apartments.

State of play: More people are working from home or only going to the workplace a few times a week in the wake of the pandemic, forcing developers to reassess office spaces.

  • Travel to workplaces has dropped 8% in Texas compared to before the pandemic and has dropped 16% in Dallas County alone, according to mobility data from Google.

Details: The pandemic accelerated a trend to flip office buildings into residential units and increase mixed-use developments downtown.

  • Those residents were vital to keeping businesses afloat and the city's core alive during coronavirus shutdowns, per officials at Downtown Dallas Inc., which promotes business and residential growth in the central business district.

Zoom in: More than 14,000 people now live downtown, compared to just a few hundred 20 years ago.

  • Last year, 556 apartment units opened downtown and hundreds more are on the way.

What they're saying: Downtown has a competitive advantage for drawing residents and companies because of the urban options it offers, including restaurants, nightlife and the arts, new DDI president and CEO Jennifer Scripps tells Axios.

  • "If I'm thinking about returning to work, am I going to want to spend two days in Downtown Dallas or a suburban office campus that feels like why did I leave my home office?" she said.
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