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Midtown Office-to-Apartment Conversion Concept Gains Hochul and Adams Support

(THE CITY) Greg David, March 9, 2022

Real estate industry seeks carte blanche to rework older office buildings, as the work-from-home revolution gives edge to neighborhoods with full-time residents.

Worried that the pandemic has made too many Manhattan office buildings obsolete, real estate interests have convinced Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul to join an effort to ease conversions to residential use south of 60th Street.

The push to convert office space into apartments has the potential to transform the nation’s largest business district, and its older and less desirable office space, into a very different kind of Midtown.

Pandemic transformations have heightened the sense of urgency. Mixed-use neighborhoods like Downtown Brooklyn fared better economically than exclusively business districts during the shutdown and continue to, as employees work from home much or all of the time. Companies’ interest in the best modern office space despite its higher price has been increased by the need to lure their employees back to the office. 

And there’s a precedent: After the 9/11 terrorist attacks devastated Lower Manhattan, regulatory changes and subsidies designed to help the Financial District recover paved way for thousands ofapartments, many carved out of vintage office towers. 

The Midtown effort still faces daunting hurdles, starting with the need for coordinated city and state actions. Any proposal could require revisiting the controversial 2017 Midtown East rezoning, which greatly limited residential development in the area between East 39th and East 57th Streets. 

Source: W42StNYC