Downtown D.C. traditionally has been one of the most sought-after locations for commercial real estate whether it be offices or retail, but since the pandemic, many of those businesses are gone, leaving vacant spaces behind.
In the Golden Triangle section of downtown, 129 retail spaces sit empty. The office space numbers are much worse.
“We currently have about 7.3 million square feet vacant in the Golden Triangle neighborhood,” Golden Triangle Business Improvement Executive Direct Leona Agouridis said. “That is out of an inventory of about 34 million square feet. So, we are just shy of 21 percent vacancy rate at the moment in our office market.”
To help fill the retail spaces, the Golden Triangle BID partnered with Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration and landlords to start the Grow Golden program, which matches local small businesses with landlords willing to let them use the space for free for the short term.
“This is an incredible opportunity for small businesses like myself who honestly can’t afford rent to be able to be on Connecticut Avenue, said Rahama Wright, curator of DC Pop-Up.
Wright is one of the entrepreneurs taking part in the program. Her pop-up provides space for local makers to sell their goods.
April Richardson has been looking for a downtown location to expand her DC Sweet Potato Cake store in D.C. since 2019.
“It’s one thing to be here short term but it’s another conversation to be here long term,” she said. “And that means that the community has to show up and they have to vote with their dollars.”
Businesses interested in taking advantage of the free pop-up spaces should apply through the Golden Triangle BID website.