Is it worth it to convert a commercial unit into residential in NYC?

Recently, our clients have been asking whether they should convert ‘professional’ (commercial) spaces located in residential buildings to residential. These conversions, although a bit involved, are profitable and convenient because they require a smaller investment, resulting in a space that can function as HOME-OFFICE.  One Space with multiple uses.


“In 2004 I bought a 700 sqft professional space in a residential building, to use as my architecture studio. This has been one of the best business and personal decisions I had made in my life:  investing in a property that I use for my practice, where the expenses are controlled and that only gains value over time.” Victoria Benatar, EXD ARCHITECTURE.




This is a trend that has been around for a while, but now after the pandemic, it has been gaining popularity, not only in NYC but in cities like Madrid, London, and others.  When buildings allow, it could 


be clever to convert a professional space into residential, so LIVE-WORK is a possibility, and at an affordable price!


CASE STUDY: In 2006, A lawyer and art collector couple were interested in purchasing a professional space to share while working together. The space was configured to have a private office for his law firm, and a shared space to display artwork like a small, intimate gallery.  They also wanted to have space so he could meet with his clients and be able to use it as a residence for when their children grow and need a place to live.

Changeability would be the theme of this commercial conversion to residential!




They purchased a dilapidated Professional space located on the ground floor of an Upper West Side Building in Manhattan and EXD transformed it into an optimized, practical, and beautiful LIVE-WORK space for the whole family to share.


The renovated unit functions both as an office and a gallery space. The media room, which serves as a storage space for office filing, can be separated for more privacy by closing the 3 FORM high tech sliding doors, ideal for when the clients must keep an eye on their children or to invite their parents over to stay.




In the former kitchen area, we designed a kitchenette and where there was a single toilette, we created a secondary full bath so the unit could be transformed into a three-bedroom and two full bath home-office. For that purpose, we had changed the building’s CofO (Certificate of occupancy), to covert it from a commercial space into a LIVE- WORK, residential use as they wanted.


See a sample of an EXD ARCHITECTURE LIVE-WORK Conversion here






 How to request a new Certificate of Occupancy (CoO)?

  • hire a registered architect to provide plans to the DOB for review.

These drawings must meet code requirements and comply with the rules and regulations of the building for the change of use to be successfully submitted and approved.


  • licensed contractor must obtain the necessary plumbing, electric and construction permits necessary to begin the renovation work. During and after the construction work, the Department of Buildings DOB must conduct the necessary inspections to make sure work was done according to the approved plans.


In NYC, there are initiatives to convert some office buildings into residential use buildings in response to the housing shortage, and to activate the large amount of unutilized office square footage in the city.


At EXD ARCHITECTURE, we look forward to creating a MIX-USE Building conversion to create communities that can be sustainable… More to come on that subject.  Here are some articles if you would like to read more about commercial going residential.


We want to envision the city to become a more dynamic and flexible post covid place to allow its residents for more accessibility, better experiences, and community driven activities than it has previously.  If we have learned anything from our past, it is the best way for a community to be more sustainable is to have more mixed-use buildings and neighborhoods.  Join us in conversation at Instagram, Facebook and


Blog written by Victoria Benatar and Michelle Cianfaglione, co-founders of EXD Architecture.









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