Sep 5, 2023 - News

Richmond ranks high in office-to-apartment conversions

Data: RentCafe; Visual: Lindsey Bailey and Jacque Schrag/Axios

Richmond is converting more former office buildings into apartments than most other cities in the country, per a new report.

What's happening: Last year, 188 Richmond apartment units were converted from office buildings, according to RentCafe.

  • That ranks Richmond at No. 7 on its list of cities doing the most of the flips.

Why it matters: Cities across the nation with fewer commuters and shuttered businesses are scrambling to revitalize downtowns in a post-pandemic world by turning office and hotel buildings into apartments.

The intrigue: Richmond is one of only a handful cities in the country where all of its building conversions to housing last year came from offices buildings, as opposed to warehouses, factories or other types of buildings.

The big picture: Nationwide, more than 10,000 apartments were retrofitted in 2022, according to the report by RentCafe, which analyzed data from commercial real estate intelligence service Yardi Matrix.

  • The stats are actually a decline over the previous year, but the pipeline for office conversions is hot, with 122,000 apartments currently undergoing conversions from any type of building, including offices.

Zoom in: In Richmond, plans are underway to convert a former Dominion office building and two warehouses at 2400 Grayland Ave. into 126 apartments, per BizSense.

What we're watching: The trend is poised to grow as more cities roll out programs to incentivize conversion projects, according to Steven Paynter at Gensler, a global design and architecture firm.

What's next: Apartments aren't the only way to transform a former workplace. As the U.S. hotel industry rebounds from the pandemic, some hotel brands are eyeing offices to convert.

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