After all, nobody benefits when a storefront sits empty too long. The property owner isn’t making any money, potential businesspeople aren’t operating their business, and neighborhood residents have fewer shopping options and have to travel farther for them.
Unfortunately, it’s common practice for property owners to charge such high rents that it can take a long time to find a tenant. Months, even years sometimes. This is especially true for new buildings, and for buildings developed by large-scale corporations (which can eat the losses from an empty lease if they need to).
Why not let small businesses use some of these spaces on a short-term basis at reduced rent, while deals with longer-term, higher-paying tenants are being sought and worked out?
Actually, there’s no real reason why not. That’s exactly the premise behind the Mount Pleasant Temporium, a pop-up retail store selling goods from 30-some local businesses that don’t have stores of their own (including my fiance, in the interests of full disclosure).
The Temporium -- at 3068 Mt. Pleasant Street until March 13 -- is a project by the D.C. Temporary Urbanism Initiative, which seeks to promote economic development, incubate local businesses and activate underused commercial properties. It’s an absolutely fabulous idea that benefits just about everyone, and should be emulated across the city.
Dan Malouff is an Arlington County transportation planner who blogs independently at BeyondDC.com. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.