Austin/ Real Estate & Development
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Published on May 20, 2024
Downtown Austin Alliance Spearheads Innovative Plan to Revitalize Vacant Storefronts with Arts and MusicSource: Wayne Wilkinson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) is taking a creative approach to the problem of increasing storefront vacancies in Austin’s core, meeting the challenge head-on by linking local artists and musicians with property owners. The initiative tagged the Downtown Austin Space Activation program, debuted at the Future of Downtown summit where a worrisome trend of decreased building activity and occupancy levels over the past year was laid bare, as reported by The Austin Monitor.

According to the DAA's chief impact officer, Jenell Moffett, the post-pandemic landscape has demonstrated the viability of such initiatives, “We are looking to get as many different types of installations – short-term installations, really – to show the depth and breadth of all the different things you can do in these underutilized spaces,” she detailed in a statement obtained by The Austin Monitor. The DAA isn't treading lightly, with expectations to prepare up to 10 spaces and provide remuneration for the creatives involved, at an anticipated cost of $1.5 million, a venture demanding robust sponsorship support.

With two spaces already enrolled in the program, anticipation grows for the announcement of a third participant space before a June 13 open house, which will serve as a measure of the interest levels amongst artists, landlords, and sponsors alike. Moffett’s vision for this program extends beyond a fleeting experiment; it's being pitched as a potential mainstay for revitalizing downtown occupancy, utilizing a pilot phase to prove its effectiveness, she told The Austin Monitor.

The nature of the activations running the gamut from event-based showcases to panel discussions and from artist exhibitions to music features is a clear sign of the DAA's commitment to making downtown Austin a thriving, vibrant hub. Diverse local organizations have signaled their eagerness to get involved, with the Diversity Ethnic Chamber Alliance and Future Front among them. The DAA is maintaining a hands-off approach to how the space is utilized, leaving the artists to their own devices as long as they fulfill the core objective of driving foot traffic and keeping the downtown vitality pulsing.

"The biggest part of it is that we’re not overprescribing anything if there’s enough funding," Moffett stated to The Austin Monitor, underscoring the ultimate goal of activated and occupied properties as a result of this program or through the natural progressions of the market. The DAA is poised to play an instrumental role where the market falters, to foster a vibrant and bustling downtown scene. Visual artists might look forward to six-week residencies culminating in public exhibitions, providing a canvas for their creativity while invigorating empty storefronts.

Austin-Real Estate & Development