DENVER (KDVR) — Downtown Denver office spaces continue to struggle in a post-pandemic world, with the Downtown Denver Partnership placing vacancies at 21.6%. 

With more companies switching to remote and hybrid work, the demand simply isn’t there, said Denver Community Planning and Development spokesperson Laura Swartz.

“We’ve seen a lot of employers adopt hybrid work policies,” Swartz said. “We know they’re here to stay, and commercial office buildings are unlikely to return to the way they were.”

The city is now paying outside firm Gensler $75,000 to study the feasibility of converting some of those spaces into housing units.

“We’re looking at is this an opportunity to take our Central Business District and turn it into something more like a central neighborhood district,” Swartz said. 

The study began in April with a focus on 30 different buildings in downtown Denver. Swartz said cost and practicality are two things the study will look into. 

“Buildings that were built in certain time periods were really designed to just be office, and so you might not have the windows, the light, the ventilation, the AC, all of what you’d expect to find in a home or a dwelling unit,” she said. 

Building owners would ultimately need to sign off for any conversions to happen. 

The study is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.