Letters to the Editor: Converting office buildings into apartments isn’t as easy as you might think

From the ground looking up at the Crosby apartment building in Koreatown
The Crosby apartments in Koreatown are in a former office building that was converted to residential units.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: While I think converting underused or vacant office buildings into housing is a pretty good idea, I think most proponents are clueless about how much it costs to do this. (“Turning office buildings into apartments is how California eases the housing crisis,” editorial, June 25)

I worked in an office that had a floor space of about 10,000 square feet. There were a set of bathrooms on either end. Each cube had one 15-amp electrical outlet, maybe two.

All that plumbing and electrical work to make the space suitable for housing has to be run. Then there’s the loading considerations of building soundproof walls, adding water heaters and more.


It’s not exactly a slam-dunk solution to the housing problem. Residential conversion just can’t be done in a lot of office buildings.

Gregg Ferry, Carlsbad


To the editor: Conversion of vacant and underutilized commercial properties to create affordable housing is a great idea. As you note, such projects can revitalize neighborhoods, reduce environmental impacts and preserve local architecture and character.

That’s why such conversions have long been favored by community activists who are routinely dismissed as “NIMBYs,” for “not in my backyard.”

Recent and pending legislation that facilitates conversion and adaptive reuse deserves support, provided the housing is actually affordable. May I modestly suggest that exemption waivers and incentives for affordable housing projects be contingent on thorough, rigorous monitoring and enforcement backed up by stiff penalties for violators?

Or is all that stuff just too NIMBY to consider?

Shelley Wagers, Los Angeles



To the editor: Recycling anything is a good idea. And that includes buildings. Yet the editor could have selected a better example than the Crosby in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood for the picture that ran with this editorial.

When I checked the building’s website, the Crosby had 21 units available throughout the 12 floors of the two buildings. A 715-square-foot studio with one bathroom rents for $2,370. That’s hardly affordable.

Mark Stephen Mrotek, Carson