Key Highlights

  • According to RENTCafe, 96,544 conversions of commercial and institutional spaces into homes most prevalent in 2010’s
  • Study considered buildings with 50+ units

Former schools, factories, offices and retail spaces such as the newly bankrupt Neiman Marcus and JC Penny are being repurposed or converted into homes. This type of conversion isn’t new.

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In the 1950’s, 2,002 units in 14 buildings nation-wide were converted to housing. During the 2000’s, some 63,990 units in 467 buildings were converted to residential spaces. A recent study just released by RENTCafe indicates that 96,544 residential units in 778 buildings that formerly housed factories, schools, offices and non-residential uses were created to house people. (RENTCafe only analyzed buildings with 50 or more units.)

The most popular commercial and institutional targets for repurposing have been, in this order, factories, hotels, office buildings, schools and warehouses. 42% of these converted spaces are now aimed at middle-income renters; 23% of these repurposed spaces are residential units considered to be within the reach of low-income renters.

Here is a list of the cities in which the most residential units were created from commercial and institutional spaces during the 2010’s:


# of           # of           Most Common                             Bldgs.           Apts. Created                 Bldg. Type

New York          73                       18,488           Hotel

Chicago              91                       14,167                        Hotel

Philadelphia      85                       11,266                        Factory

Los Angeles      74                       10,569                        Hotel

St. Louis             62                       7,197                          Factory

Baltimore          47                       6,503                          Office

Richmond VA    43                       5,625                          Factory

Cleveland          36                       5,356                          Office

Kansas City MO 43                       5,305                          Office

San Francisco   40                       4,912                          Hotel


Thanks to RENTCafe

Also read: Six Must-Haves to Seduce High-End Buyers, StreetEasy’s Take on NYC’s 2020, Podcast: Why Are The Most Successful Agents Broke? | Tim and Julie Harris

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