Mall & Office Transformation Guide

The Bay Area Mall and Office Transformation Guide is a suite of resources to help communities and planners build homes, parks and other community resources in place of empty malls and offices.

Perkins + Will

In some Bay Area communities, malls and offices sit empty. These declining malls and office districts present both a challenge and an opportunity. Today’s empty parking lots and vacant buildings can be tomorrow’s homes, parks and grocery stores. Taking advantage of this opportunity requires thoughtful planning.

The Bay Area Mall and Office Transformation Guide is a suite of resources designed to support communities, planners and developers looking to pursue this opportunity. Developed by a team with hands-on experience in transforming aging commercial sites into complete neighborhoods, it includes four step by step guides that can be used during different phases of a project:

Urban Planning & Design

Design a planning process, choose the right type of plan, achieve inclusive engagement and create a plan that balances aspiration with practical implementation. (Author: Perkins + Will)

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Maximizing Affordable Housing

Evaluate opportunities to maximize the level of affordable housing in a mall or office reuse project. (Authors: Streetlevel Advisors, Aaron Welch Planning)

Maximizing Affordable Housing guide cover.
Objective Design Standards

Flexible template of objective design standards to create standards tailored to your plan or project. (Authors: Urban Field Studio, Aaron Welch Planning, Van Meter Williams Pollack)

Objective Design Standards guide cover.
Finance & Implementation

Craft development standards and establish development agreements that ensure a reuse project delivers community benefits while remaining financially feasible. (Author: HR&A Advisors)

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The Bay Area Mall and Office Transformation Guide is the product of a 2022-2023 intensive work group with Bay Area cities with mall and office reuse projects. It is informed by the experience and recommendations of local staff, urban designers, developers and economists.

Priority Sites

Priority Sites are locally-identified, regionally significant places that will offer homes affordable to people of all incomes, backgrounds and abilities. Sites include or are nearby essential services, green space and frequent public transit.

Plan Bay Area 2050

Re-using empty malls and office parks is one strategy in Plan Bay Area 2050, the approved long-range regional plan.

Regional Housing Technical Assistance (RHTA) Program

The Regional Housing Technical Assistance (RHTA) program provides technical assistance to support local governments in complying with rapidly evolving laws and adopting and implementing compliant Housing Elements.