At least 200 new apartments and condos will be coming to Kirts Boulevard after being converted from unused office space.

At least 200 new apartments and condos will be coming to Kirts Boulevard after being converted from unused office space.

Photo provided by Ethan Baker

Troy residents contemplate commercial to residential property conversions

‘Having more residential space added will change the dynamic of Big Beaver’

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published May 10, 2023

 Unused commercial properties, such as 275 Kirts Blvd., pictured, could serve as a boon to the city of Troy once converted into new residential properties.

Unused commercial properties, such as 275 Kirts Blvd., pictured, could serve as a boon to the city of Troy once converted into new residential properties.

Photo provided by Ethan Baker


TROY — The approval of two projects converting unused business properties in Troy into residential units has some in the community wondering if this is a trend that could become more common in the city.

The first property, located at 275 Kirts Blvd., is a 103,000-square-foot office building that — along with unused parking space — will be turned into three apartment buildings with 200 total housing units. It consists of 6.38 acres of space. The other is a space on Crooks Road near Big Beaver Road. Specific details have not yet been released, but it has been confirmed that it will bring 134 new housing units to the Troy housing market.

“Our Planning Commission has approved two requests to convert existing office buildings into residential apartments,” explained Troy Mayor Ethan Baker. “It’s been private developer-driven; the city hasn’t been encouraging it. The two projects approved are close to Big Beaver and the corridor there. Having more residential space added will change the dynamic of Big Beaver.”

Troy Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tara Tomcsik-Husak said this could be the start of something good for Troy, since it will take unused assets in the community and bring in more residents.

“For the most part, we are seeing some new apartments and condos. This isn’t something that would take over Troy, but it would help us better use the space that we have. There are still a lot of businesses coming to Troy,” she said. “I think business owners should be excited that more people could be moving to Troy, which could mean new employees for our businesses. Troy’s attitude is to give people a place to live, work and play, and this will open up new opportunities.”

The mayor said that this is an unconventional solution that could solve a number of problems before they start affecting the community in a significant way.

“Nobody in this city wants vacant office buildings,” said Baker. “There are a slew of problems related to vacancies. Blight, security, the look and feel of our city, our tax base; converting them into something useful will do a lot. There’s never going to be a shortage of office space in Troy, but if a place has underperformed or is in a prime location for someone to live … investing fresh capital into those locations to create an outstanding place for somebody to live is exciting.”

Baker also wanted to preemptively alleviate any concerns about this meaning a change in how the city is laid out or where future commercial space would be allowed. Residences could be put into more commercial areas, but commercial space would never be put into existing residential space.

“Obviously, this isn’t going to be putting offices into residential areas,” he said. “There are certainly a good amount of people who would like to live in a busier area. They like the idea of living along the Big Beaver corridor and having walkable access to restaurants and retail. It won’t affect the lives of those not living in the area. It will only enhance the city by having places with a certain energy that some people like. Having Big Beaver being populated not just during business hours would be beneficial.”

Tomcsik-Husak said this will complement other efforts to revitalize the Big Beaver corridor and make it more welcoming, particularly in terms of foot traffic.

“For the most part, we will see a change throughout Troy,” she remarked. “We are seeing more landscaping along Big Beaver, and this will see more people moving to Troy. This could definitely encourage that process and reinforce the push to make … Big Beaver … a true downtown area for Troy.”

Baker believes this could be a great next step for the city and a way to help keep Troy competitive in terms of being a positive place to live or own business space.

“We don’t have farm fields anymore, but we do have parking lots,” he said. “Troy is a regional leader in the conversion from empty office buildings into residential units. … It’s a trend that appears to be continuing, and we welcome it. Conversion projects like this keep thousands of tons of building materials out of landfills. They remove outdated and underperforming spaces from the office market and strengthen the housing market.”

As to whether this becomes an ongoing trend in Troy, Baker said everyone will have to see how successful these first few cases work out.

“I could see it going either way,” he said. “People tend to watch and see how things go, and if it goes well, other developers will get involved and do something similar. On the flip side of that, we don’t have very many completely vacant office buildings, particularly not in prime locations. Sometimes it might even be more expensive to convert an older building than just build something new. We have other residential projects coming into the Big Beaver area that aren’t conversions. The old Huntington Bank property is getting new construction, for instance. We just need to wait and see how the real estate and development sector look as we continue to head out of the pandemic.”

Tomcsik-Husak said she is hopeful that this could mean the start of new opportunities for the city.

“We have seen some of our larger buildings decrease in terms of business, so this emerging trend could mean some good for Troy,” she said. “This would increase people’s desire to live in Troy. They can live near where they work and where the restaurants are. It will just allow us to incorporate more people in our local economy.”