With the rise of remote work and a persistent housing shortage across the country, many cities are calling for offices to be converted into residential complexes. Most fall short of the Boston plan.
Mayor Michelle Wu proposes up to 75 percent property tax abatement over 29 years for downtown office remodels, Boston Business Journal reports report. It’s the first financial incentive the city is proposing to offer to office owners.
The problem is that this will be a limited-time offer. The city expects to start accepting applications in the fall, but closes early the following summer. Construction on approved projects will need to begin by October 25 if owners do not want to be refunded the full tax credit.
The terms of how the tax relief will work will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. They will be implemented through payments in lieu of tax agreements with the city and the Boston Planning and Development Authority.
When it comes to condos or apartments, there are some notable requirements for the conversion. First, at least 20 percent of units need to be designed as affordable housing. Second, buildings also need to meet high energy efficiency standards.
The impact of the pilot program won’t be felt until the proposals open in the fall, but it’s mostly the crickets on the front lines of downtown Boston’s transformation — which might help spark some movement on this front, though there will still be plenty of people who don’t qualify for the switch. Attributes to be specified.
Design firm Gensler recently increased its estimate of the number of buildings in downtown Boston that need to be remodeled. In a study of 90 properties, Gensler found that 30% to 40% of properties might be worth a makeover. This could result in as much as 5 million square feet of conversion area.
— holden walter warner