Senators Stabenow, Peters and Congressmen Gomez, Kildee, Larson Introduce New Bill to Invest in America’s Downtowns

Bill will create tax credit to convert unused office buildings to residential, retail and commercial properties

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI), Gary Peters (MI), and U.S. Representatives Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Dan Kildee (MI-05), and John B. Larson (CT-01) today introduced a new bill to invest in America’s changing downtowns and business districts following the COVID-19 crisis. The Revitalizing Downtowns Act will create the Qualified Office Conversion Tax Credit to convert unused office buildings into residential, commercial and mixed-used properties.


“As our workplaces change because of the COVID-19 crisis, we will see more unused buildings in our downtowns. Converting these buildings to residential and mixed-use properties will benefit families and our cities,” said Senator Stabenow. “Our bill will help with this transition, support the economic growth of our cities, help small businesses and provide people affordable places to live.”


“There’s no doubt this pandemic has made significant and lasting impacts on the way we operate, including on our economy, cities, business districts and workforce,” said Senator Peters. “I’m pleased to join Senator Stabenow in introducing this forward-thinking, commonsense legislation that would offer incentives for redevelopment in our downtowns, encourage the expansion of affordable housing options and help us build back better.”

"Our country has always used ingenuity and innovation to guide us through our most daunting challenges, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different," said Congressman Gomez. "As we continue to adapt to this crisis, legislation like the Revitalizing Downtowns Act will help continue that tradition by transforming empty offices into safe, affordable housing for those most in need. I’d like to thank Senators Stabenow and Peters and Representatives Kildee and Larson for joining me in this effort to use the Qualified Office Conversion Tax Credit to combat our nation’s housing crisis and expand our economy for all Americans.”


“The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live and work. The Revitalizing Downtowns Act will help breathe life into our cities and towns by repurposing vacant and obsolete office buildings into mixed-use, residential or modern office space—creating opportunities for Michigan’s communities to grow their economy and create jobs. I am pleased that our bill focuses on affordable and quality housing, which is a top priority for Michigan families,” said Congressman Kildee.


“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way workplaces operate. As more businesses move to hybrid work models, we need to be doing everything we can to help our local communities deal with the loss of office workers and empty buildings. I’m proud to join Senator Stabenow and Reps. Gomez and Kildee to introduce the Qualified Office Conversion Tax Credit to turn these obsolete office spaces into quality housing and retail options. I commend Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and the Greater Hartford Metro Alliance for taking the lead on this effort, because of how vital it would be to the Hartford region,” said Congressman Larson.


“Converting obsolete office buildings into residential or mixed-use developments represents a critical opportunity to bolster the economic promise of American cities while expanding affordable housing opportunities, supporting small businesses, and creating more resilient city centers,” said David Downey, President and CEO of the International Downtown Association and member of the Revitalize Our Cities Coalition. “While the economics of conversions is challenging and requires significant private investment, supportive tax policy can create incentives and make it financially feasible. We encourage Congress to pass this crucial legislation quickly.”


The COVID-19 crisis disrupted the traditional workplace with many offices transitioning to remote work. As the proportion of people working from home significantly changes, buildings become vacant or underutilized. This can have significant, long-term consequences for downtowns and business districts.   


The Revitalizing Downtowns Act would create the Qualified Office Conversion Tax Credit. This would create a 20 percent tax credit for expenses to convert office buildings to residential, commercial, or mixed-use properties. Qualifying residential conversion would be required to incorporate affordable housing.


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