Local officials and real estate developers say they're teaming up to tackle vacant office and commercial space in Raleigh.
The city's economic development team just returned from a conference in Boston where they toured commercial spaces currently being converted into life-science lab spaces.
Raleigh, like many cities around the country, has seen office occupancy fall since the pandemic and with the advent of work-from-home culture.
"As we see the changing in the office landscape and what that looks like, you know, how do we get creative? How do we maximize the space to ultimately get people back into downtown?" said Raleigh Economic Development director Kyle Touchstone.
Touchstone says the components for converting vacant office space already exist, and they're already in discussion with developers.
"We are very fortunate that we have this ecosystem in place with the talent, with the R&D, with the university partnership, with the companies that have already been here," Touchstone said.
Boston-based developer Redgate recently toured Touchstone's team through similar projects in the Boston area. He said it could act as a blueprint for future efforts in the Triangle.
"There are a lot of good parallels between the cities. And to your point, there's a lot of lessons learned coming out of the good and the bad that we've been able to work through in Boston that we can we can leverage and bring down to Raleigh," said Erik Servies, Redgate's Director of Life Science Projects.
In Raleigh, the conversions aren't just happening downtown. ABC11 got a tour of the former Kroger and U.S. Post Office on Six Forks Road near Midtown East, which is nearing completion as Raleigh's first lab conversion. The 100-thousand-square-foot facility is slated to have a grand opening sometime in September, and developers believe the demand for these spaces is here to stay.
"This area, companies wanting to be here, talent being here, I don't think that's changing," said Lee Perry of East West Partners, the developers of the property. "That's only growing. And I think even if we have, you know, some short-term issues with real estate conditions in general, I think medium long term, there's no doubt this is going to be an area where that type of use is going to grow."