Contact Us

Denver To Spend $75K To Study Office-To-Residential Conversion Opportunities


Denver is planning to spend about $75K from its 2024 budget to find downtown office spaces that can be converted into residential apartments, the Denver Business Journal reported.

In all, the city plans to look at about 30 downtown office buildings that could be repurposed as residential buildings. Some factors officials are considering include floor sizes, the proximity to public transportation options and the mechanical systems of each building. City officials are also planning to look at Denver’s building codes to simplify the conversion process.

For landlords that think conversion projects are right for their buildings, Denver plans to offer one-on-one support from planners to make the development process easier as well, DBJ reported. 

Laura Swartz, a communications director for Community Planning and Development, told DBJ that Denver is seeking these conversion projects because city officials recognize the office market won’t be going back to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon. 

Discussions about converting unused office space in downtown Denver began in mid-2022 as remote working opportunities disrupted the city’s economy. The Petroleum Building at 110 16th St. and the Symes Building at 820 16th St. were some of the first buildings considered because both buildings were more than half empty, according to Colorado Public Radio

Denver’s office market has not improved over the last year, which makes conversion projects an attractive option for a city that has a shortage of affordable housing.

Denver’s office vacancy rate climbed up to 17.6% in March compared to the 16.5% vacancy rate recorded in March 2022, according to Commercial Edge’s national office report. At the same time, the report found that about 10% of Denver’s offices have maturing loans that will be due in 2023, putting additional pressure on office landlords to either refinance or sell their buildings.

CU Boulder professor of architectural engineering Gregor Henze told 9News that conversion projects are viable options for unused office buildings, but retrofitting heating and cooling systems could pose the biggest challenge for developers. 

“I also think it's a cool architectural challenge to make these homes not look like an office, but actually like a home,” Henze told the news station.