New Seattle program pairs vacant storefronts with artist pop-ups

Seattle Restored will set up artists in vacant storefronts in the hopes of drawing customers to different downtown neighborhoods.

SEATTLE — A new Seattle program is aiming to pair vacant storefronts with pop-up shops and artists looking to sell their work. 

Seattle Restored is a joint effort between Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED), the Seattle Good Business Network, real estate broker Susanna Tran and the artist empowerment nonprofit Shunpike

The program aims to benefit neighborhoods, small businesses, artists and property owners by drawing customers to downtown Seattle while supporting local businesses and artists, particularly Black, Indigenous and other entrepreneurs and artists of color, according to the OED. 

The city is using American Rescue Plan money to fund the program.  

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The Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDPDA) owns one vacant property that will be participating in the program, according to Director of Community Initiatives Jamie Lee. 

The organization is looking forward to hosting an artist collective. 

“It really gives them a space to find a home to not only show their work but sell their work probably and to gather with other artists, discuss what’s going on, and a place to make the work if they need to,” Lee said.

She’s also looking forward to the impact the program will have on the community once a vacant space on a main thoroughfare in the International District is occupied. 

“It really shows vibrancy, it shows that there’s activity,” Lee said. “It shows the diversity of the community and what can be and exist down here in CID. It’s not just about really great food, but our community really expressing themselves and showing what they can do artistically.”

The program will also host artists in storefronts in Belltown and Westlake, alongside a number of other neighborhoods. BIPOC applicants will be prioritized to take part in the program, which will run through April of 2022. 

There is no cost to participate, and the program will provide $2,500 in working capital to each participating small business and artist. 

In the meantime, Lee urges locals to support their local businesses year-round.

“Also, don’t forget about your businesses after the holidays,” Lee said. “Especially here in CID, our big season is coming up, the Lunar New Year, it’ll happen in late January early February, so continue to support businesses because this pandemic is long from over and the effects are long from over.”

RELATED: Seattle celebrating Chinatown-International District reopening this weekend

Kenneth Proto

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