Pilot Program:

Downtown Pops!

City of Santa Cruz Launches Vacant Storefront Activation Pilot Program: Downtown Pops!

The Santa Cruz City Council approved the Downtown Pops! Vacant Storefront Activation Pilot Program at the April 27th Council meeting.

Downtown Pops! is designed to lower the barriers to entry for businesses looking to get into a brick and mortar space and reduce the risk for property owners to take on new tenants in this challenging business climate.

Through Downtown Pops! the City enters into a master lease with a number of downtown commercial property owners with existing high profile vacant spaces and provides a guaranteed minimum rent, and then sub-leases these spaces to a variety of pop-up tenants for a 6 month term scheduled to begin in July 2021.

When will applications be available? Who should apply?

The City is currently developing a Request for Proposals for the available spaces. We expect applications to open mid-May. We will select the businesses based on criteria and input from a selection committee that includes representatives of the Downtown Association and Downtown Management Corporation.

We are seeking aspiring new businesses with sound business concepts, established successful businesses with temporary expansion needs or looking to prototype a new products or concept, and other creative pop-ups designed to activate and invite downtown engagement. Preference will be given to women and people of color.

If you are interested in applying please fill out this form to be notified when the request for proposals and application materials are ready.

How does the lease structure work?

Selected business tenants in the program would pay to the City a percentage rent of their sales, anticipated between 3-5%. The City, in turn, would supplement the percentage rent with a minimum $1/sq. ft. rent, to ensure that the landlord receives up to a maximum rent of $2/sq. ft. Any additional rent collected would be reserved by the City on the tenant’s behalf to support each tenant’s future expansion into a permanent business concept. All initial lease terms will be for six months. It is estimated that the program can support between 8-12 pop-ups during the initial lease up period, depending on size and availability of spaces and availability of tenants.

How do property owners get involved?

We are seeking Downtown Santa Cruz property owners with vacant ground floor spaces, primarily on Pacific Avenue, interested in participating in the program. Property owners can contact Rebecca Unitt at runitt@cityofsantacruz.com to learn more and sign up.

For additional information or questions about the program please contact Rebecca Unitt at runitt@cityofsantacruz.com.