Apr 22, 2024 - News

D.C. has a new downtown pop-up push

A "Retail Space For Lease" sign on a downtown D.C. property

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

D.C. is going all-in on pop-up stores to fill vacant downtown spaces.

The big picture: Mayor Muriel Bowser is announcing a pilot program Monday that will allow pop-ups and art installations to bypass the traditional permitting process.

  • For example, Capital Fringe will occupy a vacant spot downtown as part of its annual arts festival between July 9 and July 21.

"We are collaborating with creators and the business community to bring vacant properties back into safe and productive uses that benefit the community," said Brian Hanlon, director of the Department of Buildings.

  • The fine print: The pilot allows pop-ups that plan to open for up to one year to gain approvals in 15 business days or less for previously vacant sites. They can bypass the traditional process to secure a Certificate of Occupancy.

What's next: Bowser's budget proposal — pending D.C. Council approval in the month ahead — includes $2.5 million to incentivize pop-up and short-term retail in vacant spots downtown.

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