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New York Hilton Midtown, New York, NY, United States April 9-11, 2024

Urban Design

Wed Apr 10 2:30 PM — 3:30 PM (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time New York Hilton Midtown - Level 2, Sutton South

From Central Business Districts to Central Social Districts: Transforming America’s Downtowns to Save Them

Current challenges to America's office sector need not spell the death of the American city. In fact, urban office buildings and their surrounding downtowns have a distinct advantage over suburban or nonurban developments. Data suggest that while American office workers prefer the flexibility of work-from-home or hybrid work arrangements, they are still flocking to cities to recreate. This change began even before COVID, as miles of waterfront from Pittsburgh to New York were rejuvenated and activated with retail, restaurant, park, and residential uses. These well-programmed, lifestyle-focused urban developments have proven to be attractive alternatives to an increasingly online world and magnets for investment and urban innovation. The office sector's headwinds are an opportunity to rethink America's downtowns by transforming single-use, commuter-focused blocks of office buildings into places where people want to spend their leisure time—replacing central business districts with central social districts. By thinking of our downtowns as homes for social activity, we can expand the realm of what's possible and fill city centers with activity, life, and commerce.

Three days of inspiration, thought leadership, and connection

New York Hilton Midtown
New York, NY, United States

April 9-11, 2024

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Where ULI members come together to shape the built environment.