nighttime city shot

Commercial real estate, particularly hotels and office spaces, have been hit hard by the pandemic, and some properties may never fully recover. Now an effort is afoot by some New York developers to convert those now empty spaces into apartment buildings and senior living communities, according to a New York Times article Friday.

“COVID has expedited the ultimate repurposings,” Nathan Berman, managing principal of Metroloft Management, told the media outlet. 

Eric Anton, an agent with the firm Marcus and Millichap who specializes in selling buildings, told the Times that of the seven hotels in New York he currently represents, three likely will become senior housing, one will become market-rate apartments, and the balance will stay hotels.

“But a lot of the conversations revolve around whether the conversions can happen efficiently,” Anton said.

Repurposing hotels for senior living requires the appropriate due diligence and is not without challenges and potential pitfalls, Jim Moore, president of Moore Diversified Services, recently wrote in a McKnight’s Senior Living monthly column. Although the design and layout of suite hotels often is similar to that of senior living communities, hotels may not fully conform to life safety codes, state licensing or zoning requirements for assisted living.

“Therefore, resident living suites may need improvements such as showers instead of tubs, kitchenettes and accessibility for disabled individuals,” Moore said, adding that it also is crucial to verify development, demand and financial viability before undertaking any renovations.