Entrepreneurs Spur Retail Resurgence By Taking Over Vacant Storefronts [My Ideal City]

Popuphood helps entrepreneurs rent free storefronts as part of derelict revival movement.

Popuphood in Oakland, San Francisco is an urban initiative offering free retail space in unused buildings to local entrepreneurs. Launched by two local entrepreneurs to encourage urban renewal in Oakland where retail is struggling, the projects allows local artists, designers, and retailers the opportunity to open their own stores in previously vacant storefronts for six months, rent free.

Across the world, many developers are running projects aimed at counteracting urban decay. As cities struggle to find available land for new development projects, there is a counter-movement that is reinvigorating existing urban infrastructure and buildings that in many cases have been neglected and fallen into disuse.

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The Popuphood project’s main focus is to provide the local community with a vibrant shopping area, and has lead to five new retail shops, including a jeweler and art gallery. The project represents a movement to re-imagine previously neglected areas as opportunities to promote commerce and exchange. You can check out the video below to see how popuphood and local entrepreneurs are striving to revitalize downtown Oakland:

Gary Hack, a celebrated urban planner with experience directing large-scale revitalization projects like NYC’s West Side highway and Rockefeller Park at Battery Park City in lower Manhattan, has most recently lent his expertise to a crowdsourced plan in Bogota, Colombia called MyIdealCity. He believes that the future of urban planning is in derelict revival:

We see vacant buildings and sites, covered with graffiti as signs of decay. We need to reverse this and see them as opportunities for experimentation, both temporary and long term. Seeing the city as a canvas for residents’ creativity will open new possibilities.

Linked to this trend of derelict revival is the FOUNDation Project in the Netherlands where collected garbage is used to build a pop-up places, such as a cafe or bar. Furthermore, the foundation for these compact stores is actually a trash container often found at garbage tips.

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The re-imagination and rehabilitation, or ‘derelict revival’, of decaying urban environments enhances existing structures and makes them suitable for public use, while retaining notes pointing to the original character of the past. There modern hybrids can serve as burgeoning civic centers, bringing new opportunities for commerce and cultural exchange.

Q. What abandoned spaces in your city or neighborhood would you revitalize and turn into recreational or sport areas?

Submit your answer now at the MyIdealCity site - or tweet your suggestion using #MyIdealCity and #UrbanCanvas

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Over the next 6 months, PSFK will be covering urban trends that are changing the cities we live in at psfk.com/my-ideal-city. Contribute your ideas at the MyIdealCity site.

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