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Real estate expert: Vacated office space could lead to redevelopment for affordable housing  

'Priced Out of Paradise' graphic
Posted at 4:56 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 22:08:41-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — According to a real estate professional and author, vacant office space due to a "work from home" workforce could lead to an opportunity to build more affordable housing in South Florida.  

“Everybody now is moving to Florida. It’s the hottest area, and I don’t mean temperature wise,” Sam Liebman, a real estate professional and author, told WPTV.  

That has created an oversaturated housing market, leaving buyers and renters scrambling to afford to live.  

Liebman said there is some good news on the horizon with more people working from home since the pandemic. He’s starting to see a trend around the country where office space is being vacated, which could provide an opportunity here in South Florida.  

“Your workers have only been there sporadically during the last year," said Liebman. "When your lease is up, you’re gonna say, I don’t need 20,000 square feet.”

According to officials with the Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County, a $200 million housing plan on the November ballot will include redevelopment, if passed.  

Office space, parking lots and shopping centers could be repurposed for workforce and affordable housing, which many South Floridians need right now.  

“I have plenty of room, the garage and the two bedrooms. It’s been amazing,” said Anthony Wein, who lives in Boynton Beach.  

Wein told WPTV he recently learned his $2,100 a month rent is going way up in September.  

“They wanted to bump me up to like $3,400 something. I spoke with one of the managers in the office and they wrote to corporate," Wein said. "Corporate came back with their final offer at $3,153.”

However, he said that is still out of his price range.  

He’s searching for a cheaper place, but it’s been tough with rent up pretty much everywhere in Palm Beach County right now. Plus, he doesn’t want to uproot his family.  

“I’ve made it home. Me and my girlfriend, it’s home for us, and my daughter,” he said. “It’s just tough when you make a place your home for nine years and they’re pricing you out, because of what’s going on economically in the world right now.” 

If approved by voters in November, the $200 million housing plan will be issued sometime next year.