There has long been talk of converting New York City’s abandoned office buildings into homes. Only one neighborhood, however, actually did it on a significant scale – the Financial District.
A 1907 office tower at 84 William Street and an Art Deco skyscraper at 1 Wall Street, which originally housed the Bank of New York’s headquarters, have both had luxury apartments built inside them in recent years. This initiative, which is the biggest of its kind in the US, will see the interiors of five more office buildings completely renovated and made into homes.
However, the conversion is only a portion of a larger trend of changes in the region that began decades ago and is still going strong today with massive glass and steel structures.
With businesses continuing to cut space in the aftermath of the epidemic, areas from Lower to Midtown Manhattan are left with an abundance of unoccupied offices. The financial district’s transformation provides a roadmap for these neighborhoods and a ray of optimism for what may happen there. Real estate experts forecast that many buildings, most especially those with antiquated floor plans and decades-old workplaces, would remain unappealing to businesses and will have to find alternate uses.
Residential conversions have been supported by Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams as a way to address the city’s housing scarcity as well as the excess of offices. However, not many structures are changing. Given the difficulty of constructing light-filled dwellings from dark, deep interiors, such alterations can be costly and impracticable.
Nearly 1,500 additional homes in new construction and conversions have been added to the Lower Manhattan former banking epicenter since the start of the outbreak. In the upcoming years, thousands more are anticipated, including the conversion of 1,300 apartments in an office tower that JPMorgan Chase left empty in early 2021, which is thought to be the largest conversion in the nation.