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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Mayor Harrell And Office Of Economic Development Have Expanded The Seattle Restored Program To Activate Vacant Commercial Storefronts Beyond Downtown Core

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell

The City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) and Mayor Bruce Harrell announced the expansion of Seattle Restored—an economic recovery program that matches small business owners, artists and entrepreneurs with vacant commercial storefronts to host short-term pop-up shops and art installations.

OED originally kicked off Seattle Restored in collaboration with Seattle Good Business Network and Shunpike in December 2021 and focused on vacant commercial storefronts in Downtown Seattle neighborhoods such as Belltown, Chinatown-International District, Westlake and Pioneer Square, prioritizing Black, Indigenous, and other business owners, entrepreneurs and artists of color.

“Activating formerly vacant spaces with opportunities for small businesses, local artists, and new entrepreneurs is how we can re-energize our Seattle economy, improve public safety, and drive equity – all at the same time,” said Mayor Harrell. “The expansion of the Seattle Restored program across the city and beyond the downtown core means more neighborhoods, business districts, and communities benefit from a boost in engagement and activity. We are excited to grow this program, expand outlets for expression of creative visions and big ideas, and encourage everyone to visit, explore, and enjoy all Seattle has to offer.” 

Seattle Restored will expand and activate an additional 45 vacant commercial properties in neighborhoods throughout Seattle with engaging and vibrant streetscapes that will encourage the public to visit neighborhoods, support local businesses and support local artists. Additionally, 15 out of 30 current Seattle Restored participant leases will be extended for an additional 6 months due to landlord interest in continuing with the program—giving participating entrepreneurs additional time to gauge their ability and interest in pursuing a longer-term lease.

“Revitalizing our neighborhood business districts is a top priority, so I’m excited to welcome this expansion of the Seattle Restored Program to neighborhoods throughout the city,” said Councilmember Sara Nelson, Chair of the Economic Development, Technology, and City Light Committee.”Helping artists and small businesses that often struggle to afford commercial rents brings new energy to neighborhood business districts. Moreover, giving residents access to those artists and businesses improves the quality of life for everyone. Seattle Restored is making Seattle a better place to be.” 

Phase one of Seattle Restored is supporting the activation of 30 vacant storefronts with engaging pop-up shops and art installations from local entrepreneurs, artists and manufacturers in downtown neighborhoods. In phase two of the program, interested business owners, artists and entrepreneurs can apply for the following types of activations for properties throughout Seattle:  

• Pop-Up Shop – Run your own business in a vacant commercial space.  

• Art Installation – Exhibit and sell your artwork via QR code from a street-facing window display.  

• QR Code Window Shopping – Advertise and sell your products via QR code from a street-facing window display.  

• Collective Pop-Up Shop – Share space with other Seattle Restored participants in a collective retail marketplace.  

• Restaurant Pop-Up Residency – Run your own restaurant residency for one month in a vacant commercial space.

Many Seattle neighborhoods have experienced business closures and commercial space vacancies that have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Seattle Restored aims to mitigate against these harms and support small businesses, entrepreneurs and artists activate commercial storefronts, regain their financial health and gain exposure to new customers. This program will especially benefit BIPOC, and woman owned businesses that have had disproportionate financial losses due to the pandemic, loss of foot traffic, consumer behavior changes, shift to an e-commerce dominated economy and barriers to affordable commercial space in Seattle neighborhoods.  

“We are providing a pathway for growth for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, and removing barriers to affordability commercial real estate, especially for BIPOC small business owners and artists. We are excited to bring this program citywide and continue to provide tangible solutions that activate storefronts throughout the citywithfresh, innovative, and local retail concepts and art installations.”said Chera Amlag, Seattle Restored Program Manager—OED.  

Program participants will receive $2,500 in working capital to help set up the commercial space and receive complementary support including commercial space development, marketing strategy development and execution, and other forms of technical assistance (e.g., product inventory management, customer development strategies in new markets).  

“This past April we visited several Seattle Restored popups in Pioneer Square and Downtown, like Taswira and INSIDE, to see how these incredible entrepreneurs were able to bring their visions to life and bring new life to the surrounding communities. This is why we are so excited to expand the program to activate additional commercial spaces across the city – we are rebuilding our economic ecosystem,”said Markham McIntyre, Interim Director of the Seattle Office of Economic Development. “Seattle Restored is a great example of the dot-connecting role our office can play by helping connect business owners looking for retail space with vacant commercial storefronts. Our job is to support them in securing affordable space that meets their needs so that they can be successful and grow.” 

Applications are due on August 26, 2022.Virtual information sessions regarding the application process and the program will be held on August 23 at 5:30 p.m.This session will offer ASL and bilingual interpretation support in Amharic, Chinese, Korean, Somali, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese will be available for this session (must request 10 days in advance).To learn more about the program and to apply, please visit seattlerestored.org/artists-entrepreneurs. 

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