Comment 71125

By anon (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2011 at 09:36:33

Regarding renovation of the unused upper floors on downtown buildings - good luck. Fire codes and bylaws basically make it impossible to put residential back once it's been removed. If a building's original residential layout is still in use, that's pretty much the only way it can work. But if a building has to be converted back to residential from another use (or if interior stairs and fire escapes were previously removed and need to go back in)it's simply impossible to do in many of these buildings. A 12 by 60 foot 3 storey building can not have two small apartments above the storefront because the entire footprint would be occupied by stairs if they are to be built to modern code. And the third level would need two staircases. So the only way to do it is to combine the upper two floors into one living space. Problem here is the layout is going to be a compromise and the market of tenants for that kind of space is way too small. I'm sure this is part of the reason that many building owners opt to take the vacant tax credit instead of renovating for tenants. I don't know what the answer is -- obviously the fire codes are written for very good reasons. But "moving people back in" is nowhere near as simple as it sounds.

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