USA: Office-to-residential conversions raise questions at the curb

3 mins read
Adaptive reuse projects Vacant corporate structures Residential conversions Urban planning challenges Mixed-use development

In the United States, vacant offices and other corporate structures are increasingly being transformed into much-needed housing  in a office-to-residential process. According to a July RentCafe analysis, these responsive reuse projects are anticipated to produce about 122,000 apartments over the next few years. 37% of those units are anticipated to be converted into offices, followed by 23% in hotels and 14% in factories.

USA: Office-to-residential conversions raise questions at the curb - Smart  City Consultant

Navigating Urban Renewal: Addressing Challenges in Adaptive Reuse Projects for Mixed-Use Development

Although it makes sense given the current housing crisis, for dynamic reuse projects are anything but straightforward, according to Toccara Nicole Thomas, director of land use and development at Transportation America. Because the spaces don’t automatically transition to living spaces, there is undoubtedly resistance when converting. “My response is that money can be used for anything. Do we place a higher value on office space than on community housing?”

Conversions are complicated by a number of things, such as zoning, the design of the plumbing and lighting, and also the staircase placement. But, waste management and parking are frequently disregarded. Transportation America Policy Director Benito Perez declared that cities must take into account how vehicle storage, bike and bus lanes, and drop-off areas in front of buildings must change with building conversions.

There is a great demand for roadside space. Residents of industrial or residential buildings want to make sure they can be picked up or dropped off close to the building’s entrance or that delivery drivers have access to short-term parking. In addition to parking and drop-off/pick-up spaces for customers, financial businesses and restaurants also require delivery driver access. Streeteries and public transit stops, as well as parking for cars, bikes, and micromobility vehicles, compete for waste space; this epidemic adaptation has persisted in some communities. With conversions increasing, city managers are challenged to choose the appropriate arrangements and spaces.

Adaptive Urban Transformation: Navigating Parking and Waste Management in Chicago’s Office-to-Residential Conversions

Chicago is not an exception to the movement for office-to-residential conversions. According to Pete Lemmon, top transportation engineer at Kimley-Horn, a planning and design consulting firm working on three of those projects, it has also made six grants available to property owners and developers to encourage it. In the downtown Loop neighborhood, the city has put forth five proposals to convert offices into mixed-use structures thus much.

Parking and waste management, according to Lemmon, are a factor in these projects. He explained that because each website is different, you must tailor the solutions to each situation.

According to him, adding parking meters or activating alleyways can help adapt to the shifting curbside requirements of dynamic reuse projects. For instance, loading docks, which are useful for office buildings, are never a good fit for locals who are waiting for Amazon deliveries, according to Lemmon. He said,”You have to take into account who the stakeholders are in each circumstance. You have local transportation departments, possibly the city planning division, the owner of the buildings, and those who use the structures themselves. In an urban area, curbside frontage is a scarce resource. What is the best way to use it on a specific day or time?”

Balancing Tradition and Innovation: Navigating Technology in Urban Curbside Management for Mixed-Use Development

Lemmon suggests that stakeholders seek assistance from technology. By gathering important data, the International Parking Mobility Institute, a group of parking and mobility professionals, is providing tech support to Chicago’s adaptive reuse initiative. According to Rachel Yoka, the chief strategy officer of IPMI “We’re tracking what’s happening with downtown office and personal space and how that affects parking. Post-pandemic, the market is unsure. The Monday through Friday commuter model of city parking is fast falling apart.”

Perez advises cities not to rely very heavily on technology. He claimed that “many cities are excited about novel, bright technology to help solve their curbside issues. You must first return to the fundamentals, no upend them. Don’t act too quickly unless you are fully aware of the reasons behind your actions.”

Understanding what its curbside assets are and how they are being used, according to Perez, is the key to mastering the fundamentals. Then, he said “they can investigate innovations and technology to advance their curbside management to be more active and meet expanding demands more nimbly.” Advanced parking meters may be used in technology to collect transaction data, for example, to comprehend how meter spaces are used.

Embracing Change: Urban Transformation through Mixed-Use Development and Curbside Innovation

Yoka predicted that cities should trend toward mixed-use development so that people can live, work, eat, and enjoy themselves all in one location. According to Yoka, this model frequently brings in the most money, including from parking. A shared-use parking study is one of the best tools, she said. “The outcomes can inspire you to think creatively and determine how to create spaces for the numerous needs”

For instance, Thomas claimed that even before the pandemic, curbs and parking spaces in New York City’s Meatpacking District had to be reimagined due to the conversion of previous warehouse and office spaces into homes, financial spaces, and the well-liked High Line greenway. You must give people’s movement and activities priority, she advised. That entails taking into account modes and access to structures, such as bus and bike lanes, congestion, and the possibility of experimentation.

She advises city managers to be prepared to fail despite the fact that no every experiment will succeed. “You might make a mistake, but you’ll still learn something, and that’s good”.

Matthew Boyle

Matthew Boyle is a distinguished Smart City Consultant, renowned for his expertise in IoT (Internet of Things) and cutting-edge urban technology solutions. With a deep understanding of Smart City initiatives, Matthew excels in leveraging IoT innovations to transform urban landscapes into efficient, sustainable, and connected environments. His strategic insights and hands-on experience in urban planning, data analytics, and IoT implementation make him a trusted expert in the field. Matthew Boyle is your go-to consultant for navigating the complex world of Smart Cities, ensuring seamless integration of IoT technologies, and unlocking the potential of data-driven urban solutions. With his guidance, your city can thrive in the digital age, enhancing quality of life and fostering a sustainable future.

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