LA County explores turning struggling commercial properties into housing

Board cites potential wave of distressed properties will become available

Los Angeles /
Feb.February 26, 2021 11:42 AM
LA County explores turning struggling commercial properties into housing. (Getty)
LA County explores turning struggling commercial properties into housing. (Getty)

With the housing crisis worsening, Los Angeles County is considering a move to convert some struggling commercial properties into affordable housing.

The board of supervisors voted this week to explore options for commercial conversions, with an eye on distressed properties, Commercial Observer reported.

The motion directed county staff to gather a list of underutilized commercial properties that could be transformed into permanent housing. Around 191,000 acres in L.A. County are zoned for commercial uses. The motion also recommends establishing public-private partnerships to repurpose properties, according to the report.

Around $430 billion worth of commercial and multifamily real estate debt is set to mature this year and that debt could motivate some landlords to sell at distressed prices, according to news reports and a U.C. Berkeley study the county cited.

“Allowing new homes and mixed-use projects to be built on these sites can serve as a catalyst for new economic growth while at the same time addressing California’s ongoing housing shortage,” according to the U.C. Berkeley findings.

Both the city of Los Angeles and the county have struggled to address the affordable housing shortage. The pandemic has situation even more dire — a UCLA report released in May warned of hundreds of thousands of evictions when local and state eviction moratoriums are lifted.

The city owns thousands of underutilized or vacant properties and in recent years has pushed to find new uses for them. City Controller Ron Galperin in 2019 proposed a municipal development corporation to lead that effort.

[CO] — Dennis Lynch


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