Reinventing Spaces: The Transformation of Hotels and Motels into New Uses

Multi-family apartment building under construction, with mural of an octopus and a squid on one face of the building.
This hotel in Lincoln City is undergoing conversion to a condominium building.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards repurposing hotels and motels into innovative spaces, breathing new life into these properties and revitalizing communities. According to a study from RentCafe.com, hotels made up almost a third of commercial space conversions into housing in 2022 and they are the fastest-growing segment of adaptive reuse projects.

Converting hotels and motels into new uses can provide any mix of the following creative transformations, depending on the market and community needs:

  • Creative Workspaces
  • Art Galleries
  • Cultural Hubs
  • Micro housing
  • Cohousing
  • Market Rate Housing
  • Employer / Workforce Housing
  • Student Housing
  • Senior Housing
  • Affordable Housing
  • Emergency Shelters
  • First Responder / Public Safety Quarters

February 2024 Oregon Legislature Approved

  • $376M investment in Emergency Housing Stabilization and Production Package
  • $131M of the Package is for housing and homelessness projects like Project Turnkey, which includes projects which buy hotels to convert into emergency housing

Source: EHSP 2024 press release

One of the most impactful uses for converted hotels and motels is addressing the pressing need for affordable housing. By repurposing these properties into residential units or supportive housing facilities, communities can provide much-needed shelter and stability for individuals and families facing homelessness or housing insecurity. This approach not only utilizes existing infrastructure but also helps alleviate the affordable housing crisis by quickly increasing the supply of available units.

In a significant stride towards addressing homelessness and housing insecurity, Oregon’s 2024 legislative session marked a pivotal moment with the allocation of additional funds towards Project Turnkey. This groundbreaking initiative aims to repurpose hotels and motels into shelters and affordable housing, providing much-needed support for individuals and families facing housing crises across the state.

With homelessness remaining a persistent challenge in Oregon, exacerbated by factors such as rising housing costs and economic disparities, the need for innovative solutions has never been more pressing. Project Turnkey represents a proactive approach that leverages existing infrastructure to create safe, stable, and supportive environments for those in need. This January 2024 ABC News report humanizes the results to date from Oregon’s Project Turnkey, which has renovated hospitality properties in 27 cities to add capacity for the State’s shelter system.

One of the key strengths of Project Turnkey lies in its adaptability and scalability. By repurposing hotels and motels, the initiative can quickly provide shelter and housing options while also offering a pathway towards permanent solutions. This approach not only addresses the immediate need for shelter but also promotes dignity, autonomy, and community integration for individuals experiencing homelessness.

The trend of converting hotels and motels into new uses represents an exciting opportunity to reimagine and reinvent underutilized spaces. Owners, developers, and stakeholders can unlock the full potential of these properties, transforming them into valuable assets that benefit both investors and communities for years to come. As we look to the future, we will continue to explore innovative ways to repurpose existing properties and infrastructure, building a more resilient, inclusive, and vibrant environment for all.