Pop Up Shops Get Ready for Atlanta Streetcar

April 21,2014


To kick-start the economic development effort associated with the new streetcar, Central Atlanta Progress has sponsored a “pop-up shop” program that cajoled property owners along the line into offering three months of rent-free space to business owners and entrepreneurs. CAP sweetened the deal by giving those owners $500 to prep the spaces and get them ready to open in June.

“Studies showed that there are 80 acres of vacant or underutilized land and 30 vacant buildings within a quarter mile of the streetcar,” Ball said. “Conditions in the area are very similar to the mid-’90s — the Olympic era — when buildings like Muse’s and the William Oliver were vacant, and developers could get them for cents on the dollar. The same thing is happening now. The apartments in the area are full, and the population in the area is right at 23,000 — not including the students in the Georgia State dorms. We’ve already started to see improvements, with 11 new restaurants opening in the corridor and the National Park Service renovating the historic Ebenezer Church [in the MLK Historic District].”

CAP recruited retail specialist Kristi Rooks to head the Downtown Pop-up Shops program, which matches would-be shop owners with the right space. More than 100 applications were scrutinized and so far, 17 have been approved. In the mix are stores for music, home furnishings, crafts, arts, bike tours, dog treats and socks.

“That’s a pretty significant story,” she said. “People are very excited about being part of the next big thing — the revitalization of downtown.”

Pop-up operators will have three- or four-month leases starting June 1. They’ll be responsible for utilities, insurance and staffing, and they’ll have the first option to stay on at the end of the lease.

“This program allows people to come downtown and test the market with no obligation to stay,” Rooks said. “It activates storefronts that are otherwise vacant, and it offers vibrant things for people to do as they are jumping off and on the streetcar.”