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Developers Take Another Crack at Converting North Old Town Office to Housing

After years of inaction, a new applicant is hoping to take a crack at converting the vacant Waterfront Center office building in Old Town at 801 N. Fairfax Street into a residential development.

“Interest in converting the nearly 50-year-old office building dates back to at least 2015, when the property owner for both office buildings approached the City about converting the 801 N. Fairfax Street building to residential,” said the applicant, A & A Limited Partnership. “The property owner demonstrated that floor area ratio (FAR), setbacks, parking and open space requirements could be satisfied in a ‘by-right’ conversion from office to multifamily residential.”

The project is scheduled to go to the Planning Commission on Thursday.

Converting the building to residential did require one Special Use Permit (SUP) for increased height to allow rooftop access — which would technically increase the height of the building by adding railings and dividing walls. An SUP was granted in 2017, but no action was taken and the permit expired.

“A contract purchaser of the 801 N. Fairfax Street building is the applicant for the current SUP and plans to convert the vacant office building to residential use,” the applicant said.

The plan is to convert the building into multi-family residential housing. While the building doesn’t comply with guidelines on height for that area, a staff report praised the proposal’s flexible use of an existing building footprint.

“Staff supports the SUP application for a building height increase that will provide additional flexibility for the adaptive reuse of the existing building at 801 N. Fairfax Street,” the staff report said. “The SUP increases the viability of converting the vacant office building into active residential use.”

Waterfront Center isn’t the only North Old Town office space getting a residential makeover: nearby office complex The Towngate has also requested permits to undergo a conversion to residential use.

Photo via Google Maps

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