There are many empty storefronts in downtown Denver. The city — and its promoters — are offering free rent to some businesses that take a chance there.


So far, none of the participants have chosen to make their temporary store page permanent, but that’s the ultimate goal.

“That’s our hope,” said Sarah Wibenson, director of economic development at the Downtown Denver Partnership and a key player in Pop Up Denver. “Ultimately, it gives them this runway for success so they have time to build a customer base by not paying base rent.”

Landlords are happy with the result, according to Wibenson, even if it means they’re not collecting rent on the real estate.

“When you have foot traffic coming and going from a pop-up, it increases visibility to nearby leaseholders. It also shows the viability of a space that may have been sitting empty for a long time,” she said.

20220914-denver-market-business-popupHart van Denberg / CPR News
Pedestrians walk past paper-covered windows of an empty retail space on Denver’s 16th Street Mall, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
20220914-denver-market-business-popupHart van Denberg / CPR News
A Denver police motorcycle is parked on the 16th Street Mall in Denver, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, during the Denver Pop-Up Program at the storefront.

Landlords have the option of replacing the pop-up with a paying tenant if they can afford it. If that happens, the Downtown Denver Partnership will work to find the business a new location, Wibenson said.

In areas like the 16th Street Mall that rely on foot traffic and office workers during the week, empty storefronts are becoming a chronic disease. The remote work revolution brought about by the pandemic has been good for white-collar workers who cut their commutes and work from the comfort of home offices, but not for the restaurants and shops that used them. to spend their money.

The hollowed-out feel of the 16th Street Mall creates many issues for the businesses there. Public perception of safety in Downtown Denver is becoming more and more of a concern, said Beth Moysky, vice president of the Downtown Denver Partnership, at a recent Colorado Chamber of Commerce event on homelessness.

“That man is talking to himself… They may not have anything to do with me, but when you walk by them or pass you, it can make you feel uncomfortable. And people don’t feel that safe,” Moysky said during the panel discussion.



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