Office Spaces Reimagined

If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that board calls don’t necessarily require a boardroom, and Zoom + Shirt + Virtual Background make work from anywhere possible, professional, and effective. According to a recent survey done by Harvard Business School, only 18% of individuals want to return to the office full-time once the pandemic is over; unsurprisingly, those who have been taken to the brink parenting through the pandemic make up a significant portion of that group.

But what will become of the office? With commercial vacancies hovering around 17%, New York City hasn’t had this much empty office space in more than three decades. NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer suggests that the rapidly rising vacancy rate means office rents are due for a large and prolonged decline.

Office vacancies are in nearly every corner of the country. 

Manhattan isn’t the only impacted metropolis, either. In San Francisco, office vacancy is at an all-time high, surpassing levels seen during the dot-com bust, and companies continue to vacate space at an alarming rate. Across the country the story is the same; in Chicago, United Airlines has eliminated 150,000 square feet at the prestigious Willis Tower. Houston, DC, and Los Angeles are all having their own challenges, devastating previously bustling downtown neighborhoods and decimating businesses that catered to weekday business communities.

Multifamily-minded companies, prepare to pounce.

For multifamily developers and property managers, empty offices make for exceptional opportunities. In New York City, there are plans to convert empty square footage into apartments. With such tremendous potential, The New York Times recently reported that the volume of building conversions might top that of the late 1980s after the stock market crash.

Currently, conversions of commercial buildings into senior housing units, market-rate rentals, and shared work places are all in progress. And while this adaptive reuse story isn’t without hurdles, even Governor Cuomo believes it’s the way forward; he proposed easing New York’s zoning laws, allowing some office buildings and hotels to be converted into residential units in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For a brilliant revival, bring your rebranding A-game.

Convincing prospective tenants that it’s a good idea to live in a converted cubicle farm in a ghost town of a neighborhood, however, may take a bit of work. For this reason, we believe the rebrand of these conversions is going to be as mission-critical as the retrofit itself. Urban apartment vacancies are already creeping up; in New York City alone, the number of units on the rental market is more than double what it was pre-pandemic. These new units coming to market will add to the inventory, and could potentially cause lingering price softening. Enticing branding will be essential to set conversions apart from competitors and lure qualified renters.

We do multifamily transformation tales.

Brilliant multifamily brand building is right in our wheelhouse at Primary. We were proud to create the logo and visual identity for The Tyler, a shining example of inspired adaptive reuse built within an 84-year-old former high school. The 70-unit Winn Development Group community in East Haven, CT now offers a fitness center, craft room, outdoor courtyard, resident lounge, and more. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this handsome landmark was recently named as the nation’s Best Overall Development and Green Building of the Year in Affordable Housing Finance magazine’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards. Congrats Team Winn!

We’re experts in multifamily branding and helping reimagined spaces find their people. Armed with insights about human behavior and a serious competitive streak, we’ve successfully championed hundreds of multifamily movers and shakers in reaching lease-up goals on time and on budget with carefully crafted hyper-targeted creative. See more of our work here.


About Primary

We’re an award-winning marketing agency that specializes in bringing places to life and bringing people to those places. For over 25 years, we’ve helped savvy owners, operators, and managers in real estate, hospitality, and beyond conquer their business goals through brilliant brand building, 3D rendering, digital strategy, lead gen, and more. How can we help you? Drop us a line at [email protected].


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