Supporting creatives and filling vacant shopfronts

A photograph of three Bourke Street shopfronts at night.

See empty shopfronts transformed into creative spaces, bespoke displays and pop-up shops under a new $2.6 million activation program we are delivering in partnership with the Victorian Government.

Shopfronts will be filled in areas with the highest vacancy rates across the city, including Lygon Street in Carlton, Docklands and the eastern end of the CBD.

The shopfront activation program is designed to revitalise vacant shopfronts and increase foot traffic, while supporting Melbourne’s creative and entrepreneurial communities.

The program forms part of the City of Melbourne and Victorian Government joint $100 million Melbourne City Recovery Fund.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the Melbourne City Recovery Fund has been critical to supporting small businesses and keeping Melburnians in work.

‘This shopfront activation program will give free space to artists, budding entrepreneurs and artisan makers to test their business ideas and help attract Melburnians back into the city,’ the Lord Mayor said.

‘Through flexible, short-term agreements, we will be creating hubs of activity that support important sectors, create jobs, and bring back the buzz.

‘As we bounce back and our streets fill with action again, initiatives like these will help us build consumer confidence and ultimately encourage longer-term commercial leases.

‘Seventy-two per cent of city businesses have told us they are fighting to survive, and it will take more than a year to recover. That’s why we are doing everything we can to support key industries and help small businesses.

‘We can’t do this alone, so we’re calling on property owners and businesses to help us by temporarily offering up their unused city shopfronts.’

Business and Global Opportunities portfolio lead Councillor Kevin Louey said it was upsetting to see so many high-profile shopfronts sitting empty, from former cafes along the harbour in Docklands, to shuttered souvenir shops in the CBD and restaurants on Lygon Street.

‘The vacant shopfront activation program will reinvigorate key areas of the municipality that desperately need attention by tapping into our knowledge and creative sectors,’ Cr Louey said.

‘We want to encourage initiatives that help create a sense of community for residents and visitors and spark new ideas for the future of our city.’

A panel of suppliers has been appointed to work with commercial property owners, leasing agents and businesses with vacant or underused spaces, and connect them with creatives and entrepreneurs to provide flexible, short-term licence agreements.

The organisations appointed to the panel are:

  • The Place Agency
  • Ginnane & Associates
  • The City Renewal Collective – a consortium comprising Renew Australia, Village Well, Design Jam, Pop Creative and SGS Economics & Planning.
  • VEE Agency

‘We have allocated $810,000 to our precinct associations in this year’s budget to generate local activity, and we will continue to work with them as we roll out this new program,’ Cr Louey said.

Support for businesses

Are you an individual or small business looking to expand into a retail or creative space, or a managing agent, leasing agent or landlord looking to fill a tenancy?

Contact our Business Concierge team on 9658 9658 or visit our Shopfront Activation page webpage for more detail.

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