The City of London plans to convert empty office spaces into apartments over the next decade.
The City of London Corporation, the governing body for the roughly square-mile district at the center of the wider city of London, wants to create 1,500 apartments by 2030 under a plan released Tuesday, according to the New York Times.
The City of London sits on the north side of London Bridge and is the British capital’s central financial district. It is dominated by office towers and other commercial space.
Adding 1,500 units would be a significant boost to the housing stock of the district, which has only about 8,000 residents. The area has ample public transit, however, including several train stations.
London’s wider office market was hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Colliers International expects vacancy to peak this year and remain high into 2022. Availability rose 30 percent in 2020 through early December, according to Colliers.
New York officials are exploring similar conversions for New York City’s Financial District in lower Manhattan. Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed encouraging residential conversions by easing zoning restrictions and offering tax-exempt financing in exchange for reserving a percentage of units as affordable. But state legislators offered their own conversion scheme and no agreement was reached, except for a modest budget allocation that awaits a plan.
The City of London has also considered offering cheap long-term office leases for tenants in creative industries.[NYT] — Dennis Lynch