Seattle thinking about reuse. Good or bad?

Could adapting office buildings to residential be a viable solution in downtown Seattle? That’s a questionPublicola.com recently asked given the city of Seattle’s goal of bringing more housing to downtown.

The one recent example of a large-scale conversion from office to residential in Seattle that the author cites as working: The Cobb, at 4th and University.

And although adaptive reuse is a buzzword of late, the author writes that “In Seattle, both the economics and market are totally different, and it will likely be rare for all the factors required to make conversion from large-scale office to housing attractive to align. It worked at The Cobb mainly because the building is historic—it had become obsolete for modern offices and it qualified for historic tax-credit financing. In most cases, simply getting office floorplates to lay out well for residential units would be a serious encumbrance.”

What do you think? Would it be a smart strategy for urban planners and developers to keep the possibilities of reuse in mind? Could this truly triumph over demolition? Check out Publicola.com to voice your opinion.

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