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Posted at 11:16 AM ET, 03/ 4/2011

An experiment in urbanism

By Dan Malouff

Have you ever looked at a storefront that's been empty a long time and wondered why it couldn't be filled, at least temporarily, by a small local business?

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).

Amidst all those empty storefronts, however, are hundreds of small local businesses that would love to occupy a retail space, but can't afford the asking prices for a lease in a good location.

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 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.

By Dan Malouff  | March 4, 2011; 11:16 AM ET
Categories:  D.C., Local blog network, economy  
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I applaud the Temporium. I question the premise that greedy landlords are somehow overlooking a viable stream of revenue in some misguided efforts to achieve only high rents.

Renting space for any length of time involves expenses that must be recaptured. Short term leases must recapture in less time, so rents are even higher. And other tenants negotiated carefully for the right to operate in a certain type of center, with certain types of stores. Often, their leases do not permit direct competitors. Certainly, criticism of the unfettered market is sometimes warranted. I doubt this is one of those times.

Posted by: krickey7 | March 6, 2011 2:55 PM | Report abuse

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