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Changing Vacancy into Prosperity: Revitalizing Unused Office Space

The COVID-19 Pandemic brought about many changes to workplace out of necessity. However, many businesses are rethinking the traditional office space after seeing the results of full-time work from home. Companies are moving their employees into hybrid or fully remote roles, severely decreasing the demand for office space. The result is increased office vacancy in both Detroit proper and the metro Detroit area. Compounding this problem is the introduction of more new office space at the new Hudson’s project and District Detroit.

            With decreased demand and increased supply, many landowners evaluating different uses for their rented office space. Some downtown landowners are reoutfitting their buildings as apartments. Others are renting the spaces as event spaces for things like weddings. More innovative options include leasing the space to pop-up shops or as photography and art studios.

However, any change in use can bring difficulties. To start, it costs funds to retrofit office space as apartments or to renovate the space to be an appealing event space. This may be impracticable for some owners. Additionally, the new proposed use for the space may not be allowed under the applicable zoning laws.

Zoning laws are enacted by cities to manage the land use of property within its bounds. These laws typically assign a use designation to a property and each designation, or zone, has approved uses. These laws could further complicate plans to convert office space. If the new use is not approved by the zoning ordinance, the landowner will have to seek a variance from the city. A variance allows the property owner to use their land in a way that would otherwise be prohibited by the zoning law, but this process can be costly, time consuming, and there is no guarantee of success. 

A landowner interested converting their vacant office space to new, more beneficial, use should consult with a land use attorney as early as possible. A land use attorney will be accurately advise you on the approved uses for your property, if you must seek a variance ensure the application complies with the requirements, help you avid common pitfalls in the process, and, if necessary, an attorney from the start of the process ensures that if you are forced into litigation the attorney has a full understanding of your situation.

The attorneys at Dalton & Tomich, PLC are highly experienced in all aspects of land use, including solar and wind development projects, and are here to help guide you through any and all legal complexities to help achieve your goals.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us and we would be happy to speak with you. 

This blog was authored by a post bar law clerk, not an attorney. While we strive to provide informative content, this post should not be considered legal advice.

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