A cure for the common vacant storefront

Seattle Times deputy business editor Rami Grunbaum writes about a program that arranges for arts groups to temporarily occupy vacant retail spaces to keep them active and spified-up:

A Seattle-based program called Storefronts is making property owners an offer that goes like this: Let low-budget creative types temporarily take over your empty space and fill it with color and life, sprinkling their artsy hipster pixie dust all over it. They may not revitalize the neighborhood in one fell swoop, but it’s bound to help.

“A building that galleries are constantly rotating through is a more valuable building than one where the crack dealers are hanging out in front,” says Matthew Richter, manager of the Storefronts program.

So far Storefronts has active spaces in five Seattle neighborhoods and in Auburn, where the city has kicked in money to help with the program.

… the temporary space filler has turned into a small business incubator as well. Five creative enterprises that started out as rent-free Storefronts efforts have “graduated” into continuing businesses.

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