Developers ramp up adaptive reuse projects in LA and beyond

Conversion of 4,322 Los Angeles units to begin next year

Los Angeles /
Oct.October 08, 2021 05:00 PM
Developers ramp up adaptive reuse projects in LA and beyond

Hotel Cecil at 640 S Main St, Los Angeles (Wikipedia)

Adaptive reuse projects are proliferating across the country and no place has more in the works than Los Angeles.

Work is slated to begin on 4,322 residential conversions in L.A. next year, according to a RentCafe study first reported by Urbanize.

That’s more than twice the conversions expected to begin in Cleveland, St. Louis and Brooklyn — the urban centers with the next highest totals nationwide.

Perhaps L.A.’s most high-profile one is Simon Baron Development’s conversion of Downtown’s Hotel Cecil into 301 apartments and a new hotel.

Nationwide, 306 projects with 52,700 units are underway or being planned. About a quarter of those units are in office-to-residential conversions.

Another 17 percent are conversions from factories and 15 percent are being repurposed from hotels. Hotel conversions were the most popular conversions prior to 2013, but office conversions are now the most prevalent, and got a recent boost from the work-from-home phenomenon.

“Office buildings have become the most frequent type of building to be converted since 2010, even though they are more costly to convert than hotels,” Emil Malizia, a professor at UNC Chapel Hill’s Department of City and Regional Planning, told RentCafe. “This outcome can be attributed to their ample supply in urban locations where demand has been strong.”

Around 20,100 units total are set to be converted this year nationwide, nearly twice the totals for both 2020 and 2019. The 15,480 conversions completed in 2017 was the highest total of the decade.

About 1,000 of this year’s units are in L.A., the fifth-most of any U.S. city. About nine out of 10 units are in office-to-residential conversions.

Developers are converting L.A.’s office buildings for other uses too, particularly hotels. Relevant Group has a suite of projects underway in Hollywood. Office buildings near LAX are also getting the hotel treatment.

Malizia said that adaptive reuse projects can cost 30 percent to 40 percent less per unit than new construction.

[Urbanize] — Dennis Lynch





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