Investing and creating communities to love

November 16, 2016

Pike Oliver continues his impressions from this year’s ULI Fall Meeting with a summary of Sarah Filley’s session. 

One of the more interesting presenters at the Urban Land Institute 2016 Fall Meeting in Dallas was from Oakland, California. Sarah Filley cofounded Popuphood, which she said, “invests in entrepreneurs with hearts of gold to create communities we love.”
Ms. Filley explained “Cities like Oakland are the most vulnerable to recession, where it hurts the most and lasts the longest,” she said. In 2011 Oakland’s downtown had 35 percent retail vacancy. But there was an active monthly arts festival drawing 25,000 people on a single day. The idea of Popuphood was to connect artists with vacant retail space.
Filley’s initiative aggregated very small businesses and concentrated them on a single block, using redevelopment funds to provide them with six months of free rent. The approach of curating local independent retail tenants to catalyze local economic development began to transform the downtown, block by block.Popuphood continues to offer three-month to five-year leases to micro entrepreneurs, helping activate and reposition downtown properties. As a result, the value of properties housing these small retailers and pop-ups has doubled over the last five years. “These buildings have gone from vacant to vibrant,” Filley said. Popuphood has proved that micro entrepreneurs can have major economic impacts.

To watch a video of Sarah’s presentation click here