On March 15th, HBA staff testified in front of the Portland City Council in support of a new Office to Housing Conversion program. In an effort to revitalize the city’s downtown core, in addition to addressing much needed housing supply, Council voted unanimously to approve the incentive package which will make it less expensive and more technically feasible to turn underutilized office space into apartments. Among other things, the program will exempt office-to-residential conversions from needing to pay for System Development Charges (up to $3m) while technically lowering the seismic improvement standards that are typically required of multi-unit residential buildings. Both alternatives will make it more financially viable for building owners to generate value at a time when in-person office work has fallen dramatically since the start of the pandemic. There is also a bill in Salem (HB 2984) that replicates these steps while lowering thresholds to change zoning standards from commercial to residential.