‘Project Pop-Up’ offers incentives for business owners to set up shop in Downtown Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — Turning vacant space into vibrant storefronts: that’s the goal of Project Pop-up, a new initiative to transform Downtown Pittsburgh. It’s encouraging entrepreneurs to open businesses in various ground-floor retail locations that are currently sitting empty, an opportunity made possible through the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) and Hillman Foundation.

Two of the incentives being offered: $15,000 and free rent for up to a year. Lease terms range from six months to a year, with the potential for businesses to stay longer.

“I think it would be great to have new businesses downtown. It’s a little empty over here,” said Nicole Tsiaras, who lives downtown.

“I’m really excited to see that there are a bunch of different organizations working with local government to be able to try to regenerate downtown,” said Doug Root, who works downtown.

In a press release, PDP officials said the initiative seeks to drive creative opportunity and support innovative use of downtown real estate by fostering local entrepreneurship, enhancing the street-level environment, and supporting existing merchants by increasing foot traffic and patronage. The Project Pop-Up program is expected to be funded for one calendar year, with the potential to continue pending funding and space availability.

Channel 11 asked people who live and work downtown what they would like to see.

“Coffee shop, workout studio, those would probably be the two big ones there. Maybe a cute place for happy hour?” Tsiaras said.

“More fun…more kids running through the fountains at PPG Plaza, using parks as respite stops during the day, that’s what livability is all about,” Root said.

Those interested must apply for the program, demonstrate how their operation would thrive downtown, and present a business and social media plan.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 4. Learn more here.

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