Dark windows. Quiet lobbies. Hushed halls.
Many of New York’s hotels and office buildings have been empty for more than a year now as the pandemic continues to keep tourists and workers out of the city.
And some of those properties may never recover. An effort is afoot to take these eerily empty commercial structures and convert them to housing of some kind and perhaps other uses as well, potentially spurring a number of building conversions not seen since the crash of the late-1980s.
But in the development world, top-to-bottom makeovers can take years, and a robust recovery could make landlords think twice about reinventions. Space and safety requirements could also complicate some conversions, real estate executives say.
Still, with some companies allowing employees to permanently work from home, and officials bracing for tourism to not fully recover for years, there is support across the city for breathing new life into struggling buildings.
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