In 2022, ESI and Packard Beasley Consulting were engaged by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to provide management and technical support to a city-council mandated task force study that provided strategic recommendations to encourage the conversion of vacant or commercially unviable office space to other uses, with an emphasis on housing. Throughout the project, the ESI team worked closely with the New York City Department of City Planning, who managed the task force.
The Office Adaptive Reuse Task Force was convened following declines in office utilization in New York City as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing work-from-home policies. Historically high vacancy rates, paired with strong demand for housing in high-density commercial districts, suggested an opportunity to examine regulations governing conversions and evaluate the potential of financial incentives to encourage the production of affordable housing.
ESI completed four components:
- Evaluated an analysis of the commercial and residential markets in New York City completed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and suggested research methods to carry out the remainder of the work.
- Conducted 26 interviews with nearly 40 industry experts, including brokers, property owners, engineers, architects, developers, and bankers.
- Created a series of future scenarios to benchmark the range of possibilities for the office market based on projected supply and demand for office space.
- Built a model to assess the financial feasibility of converting specific office buildings to residential uses.
These efforts informed the task force on making recommendations to the City and State of New York on regulatory and zoning changes as well as financial incentives to secure the future of the New York City office and residential markets. The ESI team also produced the task force’s final report.