What if we turned empty offices into housing? Remote work is hollowing out downtown Boston and other cities that desperately need affordable housing. With imagination and political will, we could address both problems at once. : politics

The idea of malls were originally supposed to have housing. Like compact villages where dwellers could do grocery shopping and what not on the ground floor. They became a money laundrying scheme in the 90s and now we have a kind of perverted “luxury apartment” thing that turned having shopping and gyms with apartments unaffordable instead of compact affordability.

Edit: I left some sources in another comment, but I’ll go ahead and add more here.

99PercentInvisible The Gruen Effect

Gruen’s full vision for the mall was more than just shops. He imagined them as mixed-use facilities, with apartments, offices, medical centers, child-care facilities, libraries, and (since it was the 1950s) bomb shelters.

Luxury Apartment money laundering through shell companies.

I’m not going to track down every case and real estate company, but here is one of them

The government alleges that starting in January 2007, Mr. Swenson and other employees said publicly that DBSI was a profitable company with a net worth of more than $105 million, when he knew “DBSI’s real estate and non real estate business activities were universally unprofitable.” The indictment says the conspiracy continued until DBSI filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2008 after suffering losses from soured investments on more than 200 properties valued at about $2.65 billion.

Investors have put in nearly $14 billion of equity in TIC property deals since 2002, according to FactRight, a financial firm that tracks nontraded securities.

But these and similar tax-oriented real-estate partnerships have fallen out of favor in recent years, partly because investors have had fewer capital gains to shelter.

Only $278 million was invested in TICs in 2012, a fraction of the $3.7 billion invested in 2006. DBSI was one of the largest TIC companies during the last decade’s boom years.

TICs buy office buildings, strip malls and other commercial properties while a property manager oversees the buildings. These investment vehicles became a popular way for mom-and-pop investors to roll over proceeds from a recent property sale as a way of deferring capital gains tax. TICs also offered around a 6% annual return.


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