Jeff Wood
Urban Reads

Will Downtowns Shift From Offices To Apartments?

All the city news you can use.

By - Sep 4th, 2022 12:18 pm
The Buckler. Photo by Jeramey Jannene. All Rights Reserved.

The Buckler, an office to apartments conversion. Photo by Jeramey Jannene. All Rights Reserved.

Every day at The Overhead Wire we sort through over 1,500 news items about cities and share the best ones with our email list. At the end of the week, we take some of the most popular stories and share them with Urban Milwaukee readers. They are national (or international) links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Turning downtowns residential: In the last few decades more and more people want to live closer to downtown and as the pandemic has reduced office demand there’s a potential solution right in front of us. But turning office space to residences isn’t so clear cut. In most cities, developers don’t see value in the office conversion as codes limit what can be done with office buildings that won’t allow open windows but that could change soon as commercial rents drop and residential is seen as a better option. (Alan Ehrenhalt | Governing)

America built for cars, not human connection: Houston native Muizz Akhtar discusses how the design of cities makes it harder for people to develop or keep friendships. In college at Texas A&M, the proximity to other students and walkability of campus was a revelation of how things could be. But moving back to Houston after school proved once again that it was hard to muster the effort to meet friends and be more social due to long drives from friends and work. (Muizz Akhtar | Vox)

Why do people hate cyclists so much?: Bike infrastructure has come a long way in England since Helen Pidd started riding 18 years ago but the aggression towards people on bikes has increased more. Spurred by the culture wars and right wing media, some have dehumanized those that choose a bike as a mode of transportation. And as drivers get more threatening, bike riders are held to silly standards on aggression and rules that are disproportionate to driver’s infractions and impacts. (Helen Pidd | The Guardian)

Trees a secret weapon in new climate bill: The Inflation Reduction Act includes a number of provisions that will support natural environments including the planting of trees and other conservation efforts. This is because trees have the ability to store lots of carbon and studies show reforestation could reduce our emissions by one-third of total need. They are also important for cooling cities, reducing temperatures by 20 degrees in some instances. But first we need to plant more trees, and the bill supports that. (Jad Daley  | Time Magazine)

A eulogy for small cargo vans: It’s not just SUVs that are increasing the size of vehicles, cargo vans that trades people and businesses use to transport their wares are increasing in size as well. Smaller cargo vans are being discontinued at a rapid rate in the US leaving not many choices for that baker or plumber. Smaller vehicles proliferate in European cities where more human-scale environments are the norm. (Victoria Scott | The Drive)

Quote of the Week

“Compared to the herculean task of building supply chains to sustain a broad domestic E.V. market, tackling this problem from the demand side almost seems easy. Proving that E.V.s can road trip may have been an important psychological hurdle for the technology to tackle, but it remains more psychological than real: the average American motorist drives about 40 miles per day and 95 percent of our car trips are 30 miles or shorter.”

Edward Niedermeyer in the New York Times discussing the unnecessary psychological need for longer-range electric vehicle batteries.

This week on the podcast

Kim Cella of Citizens for Modern Transit and Sheila Holm of AARP discuss how they are transforming transit stops in St. Louis.

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Categories: Real Estate

One thought on “Urban Reads: Will Downtowns Shift From Offices To Apartments?”

  1. Polaris says:

    Great article on the barriers to adaptive reuse of commercial to residential in downtowns. In the end, almost every downtown will be better off if they become not simply commercial centers but each city’s premier neighborhood—commercial, civic, entertainment *and* residential.

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