Revisiting the need for "Tower renewal" (multiunit) programs
-- "The long term potentially negative aspects of condominium buildings as a dominant housing form in cities," 2016
-- "Deeper thinking/programming on weak residential housing markets is required: DC example, Anacostia," 2012
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has long had a program designed to help fund renovation of aging multiunit affordable housing buildings.
But as multiunit buildings age, support programs may be needed whether or not the buildings are "affordable" or social housing or market rental buildings or owner occupied buildings.
Because Toronto's housing stock is about one-half multiunit, they've responded to this problem by developing the "Tower Renewal" program ("Tower renewal: The Watergate and Southwest DC, and Toronto," 2011).
-- Tower Renewal Partnership
-- Understanding the Tower Landscape, report
While some communities have implemented one element of the Toronto program, energy efficiency loans, few communities have developed the broader program.
There is a special need to step in when multiunit buildings are in otherwise weak real estate markets, where more can go wrong, risk is higher, and financing is more difficult to obtain.
This comes up again as the Washington Post reports on how residents of a condominium community in Prince George's County, the Lynnhill Condominiusm in Temple Hills, were forced to vacate because of fire code and building code violations ("Lynnhill Condominiums in Temple Hills shuttered for fire code violations").
Of course, the deadly Grenfell fire in London a couple months ago also brings attention to the concept of "tower renewal," and the necessity of focusing on what is most important. There, tall residential buildings aren't required to have sprinklers. See "Lessons of the Grenfell blaze: How can Canada's thousands of aging towers be kept safe," Toronto Globe & Mail.
Interestingly, there is one other tool in the toolbox, "receivership," which it happens I suggested be applied on the Lynhill Condominiums back in 2014: "Receivership is an underutilized tool: Lynhill Condominiums in Prince George's County, Maryland."
Doing nothing in the three years since ends up helping no one at the Lynhill Condominiums. Then the issue was a large water bill that hadn't been paid for a couple years. The unpaid bill was an indicator of worse to come.
Placemaking initiatives for multiunit communities. It happens that the Toronto Globe & Mail just published an article ("Towering ambitions") about how to make tower communities more livable, by allowing the inclusion of retail opportunities and other amenities.
But that's more a strong or stable market issue, and density. If you have the right density (a/k/a "potential customers") retail can work. If the basic problem is too small a market, it's difficult to do anything, because adding housing in a market with weak demand isn't feasible.
Environmental sustainability and multiunit housing. See "Toronto Green Multiunit Building Challenge," 2016.