As pandemic empties office buildings, can spaces help solve housing crisis?

By Clare Trapasso | Realtor.com

It seems like it was only yesterday when America’s downtown business districts thrummed with life—rivers of people making their way to and from their offices, queueing up for hot lunch places, meeting for après-work drinks. Memories!

Since onset of the coronavirus pandemic, though, the pulse of those once-thriving districts has subsided to a faint quiver. Sidewalks once clogged with pedestrians are largely empty, since many white-collar workers are working remotely rather than returning to their high-risk, high-rise office buildings. Tourists are largely staying away, too.

That doesn’t bode well for the long-term future of office buildings and hotels in these neighborhoods. Some will likely shut down for good. But an abundance of vacant commercial real estate could be transformed into what the real estate market is most desperately clamoring for: housing.

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