Frequently Asked Questions
Why was the Popup Denver program created?
Denver Economic Development & Opportunity and the Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) jointly developed the Popup Denver program in 2021 to address three challenges: the changing nature of retail; the economic impact of COVID-19; and potential impacts of the 16th Street construction project. After a pilot round in 2022, the second round was enhanced with “wraparound services” to provide the selected entrepreneurs with business planning and financial literacy support. This modification transitioned the program from a short-term storefront activation initiative to a business development initiative that supports DDP’s larger goals as an Entrepreneurial Support Organization (ESO). Later in 2023, the Traveler Track was added to address the lag in retail leasing activity downtown: of the 25 new businesses opened in 2023, none were traditional, soft goods retail operators. When the track was introduced, there were a total of 150 vacant groundfloor spaces within the Downtown Area boundary.
How will participation in Popup Denver benefit my business?
Round two of Popup Denver has three tracks for local retail entrepreneurs: Maker Track (early-stage designers and producers of retail goods), Explorer Track (experienced regional storefront business operators), and Traveler Track (established retail brands looking to expand into the Denver market).
Selected Maker applicants will be given an opportunity to participate in monthly workshops with Wells Fargo small business consultants to learn about business planning; capitalizing growth; and other topics to help reach the next stage of their business development.
Selected Explorer applicants will be given an opportunity to open a storefront on 16th Street, supported by a $20,000 package of tenant improvement funding and vendor services, including: architectural/engineering; interior design and permitting; digital marketing; safety/security; and peer mentoring. The Popup Denver storefront operators are provided with a space for a minimum of six months and will not be required to pay base rent, just operating expenses (e.g. utilities, common area maintenance fees, trash fees).
Selected Traveler applicants will be provided with a $15,000 tenant improvement grant to offset the cost of a minimum three-month lease or license agreement for a groundfloor space within the Downtown Area boundary.
What kinds of businesses are likely to be selected for the Popup Denver program?
The Popup Denver selection committee chose businesses for the Maker and Explorer Tracks that helped to achieve the program goal of “reimagining downtown, one storefront at a time.” Retail products that reflect the growing diversity, globalism, and/or cultural heritage of Denver scored highly, as did storefront concepts that provided a “third place” for community members to gather and enjoy an experience they can’t find elsewhere. Traveler Track businesses who apply before December 31, 2023 will be scored on a rolling basis while funding is available, based on several factors, including: duration of prior vacancy, size of the space being occupied, and demonstrated market demand for the business concept.
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