Creatives to fill shopfronts and bring back buzz

Empty shopfronts will be transformed into creative spaces, bespoke displays and pop-up shops under a new $2.6 million activation program from the City of Melbourne and Victorian Government.

At least 75 shopfronts will be filled in areas with the highest vacancy rates across the city, including Lygon Street in Carlton, Docklands and the eastern end of the CBD.

A panel of suppliers has been appointed to work with commercial property owners, leasing agents and businesses with vacant or underused spaces, and connect them with creatives and entrepreneurs to provide flexible, short-term licence agreements.

The organisations appointed to the panel are:

  1. The Place Agency
  2. Ginnane & Associates
  3. The City Renewal Collective – a consortium comprising Renew Australia, Village Well, Design Jam, Pop Creative and SGS Economics & Planning.
  4. VEE Agency 

The vacant shopfront activation program is designed to revitalise vacant shopfronts and increase foot traffic, while supporting Melbourne’s creative and entrepreneurial communities.The program forms part of the City of Melbourne and Victorian Government joint $100m Melbourne City Recovery Fund.

Individuals, managing agents or property owners with vacant or underused spaces are encouraged to contact the City of Melbourne’s Business Concierge on 9658 9658 or submit a query online.

Attributable to Lord Mayor Sally Capp

“The Melbourne City Recovery Fund has been critical to supporting small businesses and keeping Melburnians in work,” the Lord Mayor said. 

“This shopfront activation program will give free space to artists, budding entrepreneurs and artisan makers to test their business ideas and help attract Melburnians back into the city.

“Through flexible, short-term agreements, we will be creating hubs of activity that support important sectors, create jobs, and bring back the buzz.

“As we bounce back and our streets fill with action again, initiatives like these will help us build consumer confidence and ultimately encourage longer-term commercial leases.

“72 per cent of city businesses have told us they are fighting to survive, and it will take more than a year to recover. That’s why we are doing everything we can to support key industries and help small businesses.

“We can’t do this alone, so we’re calling on property owners and businesses to help us by temporarily offering up their unused city shopfronts.”

Attributable to Business and Global Opportunities portfolio lead Councillor Kevin Louey

“It’s upsetting to see so many high-profile shopfronts sitting empty, from former cafes along the harbour in Docklands, to shuttered souvenir shops in the CBD and restaurants on Lygon Street,” Cr Louey said.

“The vacant shopfront activation program will reinvigorate key areas of the municipality that desperately need attention by tapping into our knowledge and creative sectors. We want to encourage initiatives that help create a sense of community for residents and visitors, and spark new ideas for the future of our city.

“We have allocated $810,000 to our precinct associations in this year’s budget to generate local activity, and we will continue to work with them as we roll out this new program.”

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