Why Adaptive Reuse Is Important To Lower Housing Costs

Performance Property Real Estate Question

Q: As more people work from home, what do you think will happen to the empty office spaces? Caitlin, Metuchen, NJ

A: The biggest reason housing prices in the US are sky high for renters and home buyers is because US housing supply is millions of units short of housing demand. If there was enough housing supply to satisfy demand, housing prices for both buyers and renters would be much cheaper.

Adaptive reuse is the process of transforming existing buildings for a new purpose. Here in NJ, which is the most densely populated US state, repurposing existing buildings for most productive uses has been happening for many years. In addition to increasing badly needed housing supply, adaptive reuse can be an economic driver for towns and municipalities that repurpose and reuse legacy buildings rather than just tear them down or leave them vacant and dormant.

Although there are technical challenges associated with reconfiguring steel and concrete office buildings for residential use, those challenges are not insurmountable with the assistance and participation of engineers, architects and city planners.

Rigid local regulations and archaic local zoning ordinances are the biggest obstacles standing in the way of adaptive reuse. Widespread zoning reform is necessary to address America’s housing shortage. Thanks for your question, Caitlin.

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