Mayor Wu announces extension of Office to Residential conversion program with partnership from the State Update 06/25/24

Mayor Wu announces extension of Office to Residential conversion program with partnership from the State

Mayor Wu and Governor Maura Healey have announced the extension of the City of Boston’s Office to Residential Conversion Program with added funding from the state. The state will offer $15 million in funding to incentivize larger-scale office buildings to convert to housing, which often can be more costly due to the complexity of the projects. The state funding would fund up to $215,000 per affordable unit with a cap of $4 million per project. The City’s program application deadline will be extended to December 31, 2025. 

The pilot, which formally launched in October of 2023, has so far received nine applications to create a total of 412 units of housing across 13 buildings and convert 403,000 square feet of office space to residential space, exceeding initial city goals. Two of those projects that applied to the program last fall have been formally approved by the BPDA Board and will begin construction later this summer. Staff expects to see an additional 300-500 units of housing realized by the extension of the program. Projects that demonstrate readiness to proceed with their application and construction will be prioritized for funding. 

"As we work to make Boston a home for everyone, our office to residential program will create more housing and more affordability in Boston,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “This investment from the State will support our efforts to incentivize lenders, property owners, and downtown stakeholders to increase housing production in our downtown area. I'm thankful to Governor Healey and all of our partners for their efforts in ensuring Boston's growth meets the needs of current and future residents.”

"Our administration is committed to supporting municipalities in their efforts to convert underutilized office space into housing, which is a critical tool for increasing housing availability and lowering costs,” said Governor Maura Healey. "We are proud to support the City of Boston's Office to Residential Conversion Program with an investment that we expect will create hundreds of new housing units." 

The Office to Residential Conversion Program provides a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) incentive to developers who will be converting office spaces into residential units. The goal of this program is to support owners and developers of older commercial office building spaces in converting them to residential units, while also increasing the housing stock in Downtown Boston. The program is also designed to respond to post-pandemic economic shifts that will prioritize expanding housing options downtown and improve downtown activation. With this increased funding from the state, the city will be able to catalyze office-to-residential conversions and utilize an expedited permitting process to meet the urgent need for these conversions. 

“This infusion of funding will significantly bolster, and help us to scale up this program,” said Chief of Planning for the City of Boston Arthur Jemison.” "I want to thank Governor Healey and all of our state partners for their commitment to this program, and to Mayor Wu for her support as well. Our staff has worked hard to ensure continued success with these conversions, and we are seeking the best ideas and innovations to help guide our thinking to expand and extend the program over the coming year.”

“Today's announcement is a testament to Governor Healey’s commitment to jumpstart housing production now," said Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus. "The Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities is proud to be able to help support the extension of Boston's office conversion program, which adds much-needed housing for the region while giving underutilized and sometimes empty buildings new life. This is good for housing, the environment and our economy.”  

The application will remain open through Dec 31, 2025 with approvals given on a rolling basis. Applicants to the program would commit to pull a full building permit and start construction by Dec 31, 2026 in order to get these much needed units built as fast as possible. 

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