Aug 18, 2023 - Real Estate

Philadelphia's apartment conversions to rise in coming years

Illustration of a hand holding a key surrounded by abstract shapes.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Philly will lead a growing national trend of converting unused buildings to apartments, per a new report.

Why it matters: Cities across the nation with fewer commuters and more shuttered businesses are scrambling to revive downtowns in the post-pandemic world.

Driving the news: Around 22% of the units pegged for conversion in the city's pipeline will be from hotels and office buildings, per a report by RentCafe.

Zoom in: Philly's downtown activity has returned to only 47% of pre-pandemic rates, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Alice Feng report.

  • Plus: SEPTA continues to face headwinds, with metro and bus ridership at only 51% and 76% pre-pandemic levels.

By the numbers: Philly is slated to create 3,405 units from repurposing old buildings, per RentCafe, which analyzed data from commercial real estate intelligence service Yardi Matrix.

  • That ranks Philly 4th among cities pegged for future apartment conversions, behind Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago.

Yes, but: Last year, Philly created only 187 units from other building types, all of which came from converting a historic school and the former F.A. Poth brewery in Brewerytown.

  • Los Angeles and midwestern cities, like St. Louis and Cleveland, were among the leaders in apartment conversions in 2022.

Between the lines: However, when it comes to converting offices to apartments, Philly will lag behind other cities, per the report.

  • A mere 300 units are expected to be created from office space in Philly in the coming years, compared to New York City (2,609) and Washington DC (1,147).

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