Updated: June 24, 2021 06:25 PM
Created: June 24, 2021 02:25 PM
A new initiative is hoping to bring more life to downtown Minneapolis.
It's called "Spaces #OnNicollet" and aims to help small businesses and organizations.
Downtown Minneapolis is still trying to rebound from the pandemic that led to more vacant storefronts.
"We know we went through a tough period with COVID but now we're on the bounce back," said Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
Bella Lam still can't believe all the success they're having with their business, Coconut Whisk Cafe, which just opened along Nicollet Avenue a month ago.
"I just feel really blessed to have this space," Lam said.
Her location is right along Nicollet Avenue, near Ninth Street. They were picked to be in this recently vacated space by Chameleon Consortium, a group dedicated to filling space with potentially breakthrough opportunities for local, diverse small businesses.
"It's like a percentage model, where we don't have to pay rent but we pay a percentage of sales, so that's really the only way we could've done it," Lam said.
"It's part of the overall reanimation of downtown," Cramer said.
Cramer said Spaces #OnNicollet is hoping to accomplish a similar mission.
"The idea is to act as a broker between the landlord that has those spaces and don't have any current prospects and people that might have a really good idea that would love to be in the downtown marketplace," Cramer said.
Whether you're a business, nonprofit or art project, the vacant storefronts can be used for anything.
"Our goal is to occupy space that otherwise would be vacant and to bring life and activity to Nicollet, and that can take many different forms," Cramer said.
Coconut Whisk is an example of what this concept looks like.
"Couldn't say no, and we just thought it would be a great experience and new chapter," Lam said.
Lam said she's thrilled to be part of the mission to revitalize downtown.
"It's just a really great way to break the barriers of having a brick and mortar, so I'm super fortunate to be a part of it and I know a lot of other entrepreneurs are as well," Lam said.
Applications are due by July 16. Those selected could occupy spaces for the summer and into the fall.
Projects or businesses that generate revenue will pay a small percentage of rent.
For more information on how to apply, click here.
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