In an era where education and professional development are paramount, the potential to turn vacant commercial spaces into thriving educational training facilities has emerged as an exciting financial opportunity. Across California, savvy investors are recognizing the unexplored potential of these empty office spaces. By transforming them into institutes or vocational training centers, you can contribute to the educational landscape while unlocking a lucrative revenue stream. This blog post will explore the process of converting these spaces, highlighting the financial benefits and strategic insights that can turn this category of improvement into a rewarding business venture.

Key Reasons to Consider Upgrading

The conversion of office spaces into educational institutions or training centers is a trend that resonates with the needs of modern society. With the rise of remote working, commercial spaces are becoming vacant at an alarming rate. According to CBRE’s U.S. Market Outlook 2021, vacancies have reached a staggering 15.4% in Los Angeles alone. Here’s why upgrading in this category is wise:

  • High Demand – Professional education and vocational training are always in demand, ensuring steady income.
  • Social Impact – Creating educational spaces contributes positively to community development.
  • Potential Partnerships – Leasing to existing education providers offers long-term financial stability.
  • Tax Incentives – Converting commercial spaces into educational purposes may qualify for tax benefits under California law.


  1. General Assembly, Santa Monica: General Assembly, a global educational institution offering tech courses, converted vacant office space in San Francisco into a modern, vibrant learning environment. The redesign included classrooms, collaborative workspaces, and areas for networking and events. It now serves as a hub for tech-focused education, offering full-time and part-time courses in web development, data science, and digital marketing.
  2. WeWork & 2U, Inc. Collaboration, Los Angeles: WeWork, known for its coworking spaces, collaborated with 2U, Inc., an education technology company, to transform vacant office spaces into learning centers. They designed spaces to facilitate immersive learning experiences, including digitally enabled classrooms. This collaboration allowed the creation of in-person learning centers for online students pursuing graduate degrees at universities partnered with 2U, Inc.
  3. Year Up, San Jose: Year Up is a national nonprofit that offers intensive training programs for young adults. They converted vacant office space in San Jose into a learning center with classrooms, computer labs, and meeting spaces. The facility offers a year-long program focused on IT, cybersecurity, and project management, helping young adults from underserved communities connect with career opportunities.

These examples illustrate the versatility and potential for vacant office space conversion to educational and training centers. The conversion costs can vary widely depending on the specific goals, technological requirements, and design aesthetics. Still, the results can be lucrative and contribute significantly to community education and workforce development.


California’s commitment to education reflects its diverse incentives for investors who turn vacant commercial spaces into educational facilities. These include:

  • Job Credits – Offers incentives for employment creation, particularly for educational roles.
  • Real Estate Tax Abatements – The state offers potential discounts on property taxes, especially in underprivileged areas where educational facilities are needed.
  • Energy Efficiency Incentives – Rebates for implementing energy-saving technologies are available.
  • Discretionary Incentives – Special grants or loans may be available from local governments for education-focused projects.
  • Capital Improvement Projects (CIPs) – Potential funding exists for infrastructure improvements that enhance the overall educational environment.
  • Tax Increment Financing – Investors can use long-term financing opportunities for projects that increase property tax values through educational enhancements.

How to Get Started

Transforming a vacant office space into an educational center is not merely a renovation; it’s an inspiring initiative that benefits the community and delivers a solid ROI. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started on your conversion.

  1. Assess Your Space: Evaluate the property’s suitability for educational purposes.
  2. Consult with Experts: Engage educational consultants and commercial real estate experts familiar with California law.
  3. Identify Partners: Research potential educational or corporate partners interested in collaboration.
  4. Apply for Permits: Ensure compliance with California’s zoning laws and educational regulations.
  5. Seek Financial Incentives: Explore California-specific incentives and grants available for educational projects.
  6. Create a Business Plan: Outline your vision, mission, and the project’s financial feasibility.
  7. Hire Contractors: Select contractors with experience in educational facility renovations.

Payback Period

The investment Payback Period is a critical factor in evaluating ROI. For converting vacant office spaces into educational centers in California, the payback period will vary based on the type of education center, location, and incentives obtained. 

Typically, payback periods for these projects may range from 3 to 7 years. A shorter payback period is likely in cities with higher demand for educational facilities. Investors are encouraged to consult with financial experts specializing in California real estate to get precise calculations based on their projects.


Converting your vacant commercial real estate into educational institutes or training centers in California is more than a financial investment; It’s an opportunity to make a lasting impact, all while enjoying lucrative returns. The timing has never been better – Reach out to the the Evoque Commercial Lending Team today to learn more!