The strategy of converting office buildings to residential has taken off in the suburbs and in some of D.C.’s emerging submarkets, but it has been difficult for developers to make conversion projects work in the city’s central business district.
That dynamic appears to be changing, some developers and experts say, as the elevated office vacancy in the downtown market makes conversion projects more appealing.
The Watermark apartment building, which Douglas converted from a former Coast Guard office building.
“We’ve been asked to look at conversions in downtown more than we ever have,” said Hickok Cole principal Laurence Caudle, an architect.
He said the shift has occurred over the last year. The District’s office market last quarter reached a record-high 15.9% vacancy rate, according to CBRE, and it recorded 1.4M SF of negative absorption last year.