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Are Office Buildings a Solution to the Housing Crunch?

January 2020

An old IRS building is one of many offices that have transformed into a new place to call home.

While scoping out one of the newer apartment communities in Oxon Hill, Md., William Hart noticed some strikingly familiar marks on the living room window frame—the same ones in his old office at the IRS.

“When I visited this apartment, I already knew that I used to work on the eighth floor,” Hart told The Washington Post. “To see this, it was like, wow, you worked right here in this very same apartment.”

The building, The Oxford, is one of an increasing number of underused office buildings being reconstructed into residential communities in the Washington D.C. metro area. The vacancies come as law firms downsize and the federal government cuts down on expenses.

Despite the trend, office building reconstructions are not as popular in other regions. This is partly due to the lack of incentives offered to developers to perform these new renovations.

“It’s really costly,” said Paula Munger, Assistant Vice President of industry research and analysis at the National Apartment Association. “I’m not surprised all you see is luxury because those are the prices [developers] would have to charge to get through all of the issues with conversions.”

A study by NAA showed that the Washington area is fourth as the most difficult areas to build apartment communities.

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