Revitalizing Downtown: Unlocking the Potential of Office-to-Residential Conversions in Atlanta

Revitalizing Downtown: Unlocking the Potential of Office-to-Residential Conversions in Atlanta



“If work-from-home is here to stay, we need to bring those homes into downtown and fill those buildings with residents,” — Alena Green, director of economic development for downtown civic organization Central Atlanta Progress (CAP). 


HR&A Advisors and architecture firm Lord Aeck Sargent analyzed downtown Atlanta’s infrastructure and regulatory environment to find barriers that could stall adaptive reuse. Our study, commissioned by CAP, sheds light on the feasibility of such conversions and identifies potential barriers to adaptive reuse. While the financial viability of office-to-residential conversions may pose challenges, strategic incentives could tip the scales in favor of revitalization efforts. The study underscores the importance of public-private partnerships and innovative incentive models to unlock the full potential of downtown’s dormant office spaces. 


Projects like the acquisition of the high-rise 2 Peachtree St, by the city last year, showcase the successful realization of these projects may require financial support from the public sector. During a Central Atlanta Progress community meeting, Senior Advisor Marilynn Davis unveiled preliminary findings from a study examining over 100 buildings in Downtown. The analysis revealed that office buildings must reach at least 70% vacancy before converting them to residential use becomes economically viable. Approximately 11 commercial properties meet or could meet this threshold within the next five years, constituting about 23% of all vacant office space in Downtown. 



“There’s a range of things that have to come together in a certain way, and there is potential Downtown for that to happen, but it’s not just one size fits all,” Davis said in Axios Atlanta. 


While potential exists for successful conversions in Downtown Atlanta, it requires a convergence of various factors. We look forward to exploring ways to make the conversion process as streamlined and economically viable as possible, with a focus on ensuring that Downtown Atlanta thrives in the years to come.  


As the conversation around the future of downtowns continues to make national headlines, HR&A is happy to build from our past work led by Partners like Jonathan Meyers, Kate Collignon, and Kate Wittels supporting the creation of office to residential conversion policies in Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Tulsa. 


 Related articles:  

Downtown Atlanta offices can be used for housing, study says, Axios Atlanta 

Turning offices into homes could help Atlanta, but no ‘silver bullet’, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

Atlanta leaders identify 11 Downtown buildings for potential office-to-residential conversions, Atlanta Business Chronicle