A newer twist on a new idea impacting commercial real estate

In the realm of commercial real estate (CRE), pop-ups are relatively new. What were once considered trendy have proven to be very popular, and there is no denying the positive impact they’ve had on CRE.

Thanks to short-term leases, building owners can generate income from properties that would have otherwise remained vacant. At the same time, these unique leasing opportunities allow a new business to introduce itself to the public and, if successful, become a long-term tenant.

Part of the fun of a pop-up is creating new ways to repurpose space. Pop-up art galleries became pop-up retail shops, which became pop-up museums and libraries. Recently, pop-up attention has been looking at available outdoor areas, from vacant lots to curbside spaces to underutilized properties—and all of this has given rise to the pop-up park.

What is a pop-up park?

Pop-up parks, or PUPs, are a spin-off of Park(ing) Day, a program that began in 2005 in San Francisco, when a design collective rented out a parking space for a few hours and installed a temporary garden. That idea literally and figuratively grew into PARK(ing) Day and is celebrated in countless parking spaces around the world.

The idea evolved at the same time many cities were eager to revitalize downtowns into pedestrian-friendly zones, and city dwellers craved greater contact with nature. Park space seemed like a logical idea, but many of these urban areas were already cramped with pavement and properties—with the exception of available space in curbside parking, vacant lots, and other underutilized areas.

What began as an initiative for local governments and city planners to create green spaces for residents has evolved into a partnership opportunity between municipalities, community groups, and developers.

How pop-up parks benefit CRE

Generally, PUPs are less expensive than traditional park projects and can often be completed more quickly. Rather than removing asphalt, for example, green paint can delineate the park area. The addition of benches, tables and chairs, and potted plants and raised beds make it a hub where people and nature can come together.

While there is little doubt that green spaces have tremendous benefits for the physical and psychological health of people, as well as boosting wildlife and bio-diversity, what are the pluses of PUPs—other than a lower development cost—for CRE?

  • Creating a pedestrian-friendly hub helps generate foot traffic, which, in turn, benefits under-performing or emerging properties. The benefit of transforming a curbside parking space could outweigh the parking convenience of that space.

  • PUPs provide an opportunity to examine how the public will make use of green-space projects, such as plazas, esplanades, and permanent parks that can be included in future projects.

  • It’s a natural area for partnering with community groups and local governments. Through these interactions, developers have an opportunity to build community support for future projects and to gauge the needs of the local community.

Key ingredients for a pop-up park

Although PUPs are designed to be temporary, remember to keep a few key ingredients in mind. In addition to plant material and outdoor seating options, it’s important to include flexibility. While the PUP may serve as an outdoor lunch and meeting space during the workweek, what will it be after hours or on weekends? Can the space become a craft bazaar on a Saturday morning, a small venue for a Saturday afternoon concert, and then an outdoor yoga space on a Sunday morning?

In addition, each locale has its own rules and regulations—so it’s important to work with a team that can help negotiate the permit and zoning processes. At Morris Southeast Group, we are firmly planted in the belief that wonderful transformations occur—whether it’s a pop-up or something permanent—when developers and community work together.

To learn more about what Morris Southeast Group can do for you, call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.


Tags: , , ,