The city and province have launched a pilot project to temporarily fill empty downtown storefronts and are offering new grants to beautify the facades of existing downtown businesses.
Downtown development agency CentreVenture has created a one-year, $65,000 pilot project aimed at filling empty storefronts. Dubbed PUSH, the project aims to allow entrepreneurs to fill empty storefronts with "pop-up" businesses without the burden of investing capital.
The first pop-up retail storefront, an artists' partrnership called Exchange Uporium, will open Thursday in the Silpit Building on McDermot Avenue, CentreVenture announced. The city and province are providing the funding, which mostly comes in the form of free rent.
"PUSH is all about offering a physical space to local entrepreneurs, who primarily rely on e-commerce to promote and sell their products, an opportunity to interact with the public without the burden of committing long-term to a traditional large retail space," CentreVenture CEO and president Ross McGowan said in a statement. "In downtown Winnipeg, there are retail storefronts that are underutilized, and you have people who don’t have a physical space, we’re attempting to bring them together."
The city and province have also launched a "façade and storefront improvement program" that will offer matching grants of up to $30,000 to owners of existing businesses who intend to improve the entrances to their businesses, CentreVenture announced. Help with design will be capped at $5,000 and grants for signage will be capped at $15,000, for a total of $20,000. Businesses on corner lots, where pedestrian traffic is higher, which will be eligible for grants up to $30,000.
McGowan, provincial minister Kevin Chief and Mayor Sam Katz made the announcement at the Burton Cummings Theatre today following CentreVenture’s annual general meeting
During the 2010 mayoral campaign, Katz also promised a program to reduce the number of surface-parking lots in downtown Winnipeg. He said a plan will materialize before he announces whether he will run for office again this year.