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Ghost Town: Converting Vacant Commerical Buildings into Housing
Throughout the pandemic, chatter about turning the waves of vacant office buildings into desperately needed housing has been circulating nonstop. With vaccination rates on the rise and employees trickling back into offices across the country, was this chatter a feasible reality or simply an echo that will be soon forgotten? It's important to note this is not the first time New York has dealt with large swaths of vacancies or "ghost towns". Converting offices or hotels into housing often means overcoming light and air requirements, costly upgrades, stubborn lease spans, and site-specific challenges. Lessons from precedent, like artist lofts, abandoned steel wool factories, or even vacant detention centers will show how these transformations are more than possible and even look toward a more dense future that isn’t hindered by covid-related vacancy rates. Our speakers will touch on how renovations respond to existing building codes as well as posit opportunities for creating more equitable and affordable units to meet the city's changing needs. Selected projects such as Turtle Bay Towers and 166 Montague, 443 Greenwich and 20 Broad Street, followed by Home Street Residences and 1350 Broadway will be presented by Carmi Bee, John Cetra, and Victor Body Lawson respectively to incite the panel discussion.


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