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Major US cities create innovative solutions amidst continuing housing crisis

City planners and developers are renovating former commercial buildings to add housing in growing cities. Projects include retrofitting libraries, office space and motels into housing.

A Charlotte motel will soon become an apartment complex. 

A Rodeway Inn in Charlotte's northern part of town is currently in the closing process with a Washington-based developer, Sage Investments LLC. The developer plans to retrofit the motel into affordable housing for the area. 

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The group has completed similar projects, retrofitting former motels into housing. Sage Investments tells FOX, they hope to close on the property and begin construction as early as April or May. 

Renovating commercial buildings that are not being used to their highest value has become common for city planners and developers across the country.

"Boston has very little unbuilt land left. Extremely little undeveloped parcels left," says Prataap Patrose, the Senior Advisor at the Boston Planning and Developing Agency. 

Patrose says Boston is growing at a vast pace, like several metros in the U.S. The fast-growing city is trying to keep up with the housing demand. 

Mortgage company, Fannie Mae says the U.S. is short 3.8 million housing units as of their Q4 2023 report. 

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With the high demand for housing and little supply in growing cities, developers and local governments are banding together to renovate old schools, offices and even motels to create more housing. 

Patrose says cities like Boston have to look at their resources to see what can be done, "you’re leveraging existing assets a lot of the time, especially in the case of city assets."

Boston approved funding to build affordable housing on top of a city library in the cities West End neighborhood. 

Through a city incentive program, a developer will renovate a handful of downtown offices into housing. 

Patrose says this will provide the downtown area with more housing, allowing vacant office space to be used. 

Sage Investment co-founder Emily Hubbard says this trend has really started to take off in several states. 

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"Obviously, it’s significantly cheaper. Not only is it cheaper, but it takes a third of the time. We can convert these hotels in 12 months. If we were to build them from scratch, it would take us 3 years. "

Hubbard says there is a housing crisis, but there are also creative developers with city support to redevelop unused buildings.

Patrose says, "conversions are unique to each city, so each city has to figure out what buildings will lend as a conversion and what tools are available to each city."

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