DENVER (KDVR) — Downtown Denver could have a new feel in a few years if the city’s analysis of office buildings that could be converted into housing is followed.

The study found 21 buildings that are considered “good candidates” for conversion based on walkability, natural light, parking, building age and potential unit count. This was later narrowed down to 16 by the architecture firm Gensler, which the city partnered with for this project.

The funding for the study came from the American Rescue Plan Act, which was passed by Congress in 2021 as a COVID-19 economic stimulus bill.

“If the top 16 buildings from Denver’s analysis were converted to residential uses, this could add over 5,000 units to our downtown neighborhood,” said Jon Gambrill, managing director of Gensler’s Denver office, in a news release. “This would also convert upwards of 4.3 million square feet of office space to new residential uses.” 

The idea of converting office buildings into housing could help with two major issues the city is facing: home insecurity and homelessness, and a low amount of activity downtown relative to the pre-COVID years.

A recent analysis from FOX31’s Data Desk found that at no point in the last three years has Denver’s downtown foot traffic been more than two-thirds of its pre-pandemic levels. This looked at cell phone usage data gathered by researchers at the University of Toronto School of Cities.

The Data Desk also recently used data from Zillow to determine that Denver has one of the largest housing shortages in major U.S. cities.

“Denver has a long history of successful adaptive reuse, and as the study indicates, there is a lot of potential downtown to provide additional housing to help transition from a Central Business District to a Central Neighborhood District,” said Laura E. Aldrete, executive director of Denver’s Department of Community Planning and Development, in a news release.