Tacoma businesses pay $1 rent to fill vacant spaces


by JANET KIM / KING 5 News


Posted on May 28, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Updated Thursday, May 29 at 10:21 AM

TACOMA, Wash. -- Vacant storefronts in any community can be eyesores, attract crime and give the perception of decline. That's why in Tacoma, one program has been working to fill those spaces with unique businesses that would not have had an opportunity otherwise.

In just over two weeks, Do the Extraordinary will be open for business on Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma.

"All of our clothes, all of our jewelry, all of our accessories are handmade right here," said owner Justin Kercher.

Kercher always envisioned having his own space; the program Spaceworks Tacoma made it a reality.

"I think a lot of small businesses run into that wall where they say we're growing but we can't afford to get our own space," said Kercher.

The program works with property owners to offer rent at $1 for six months.

"They can test it out for six months and they can prove themselves and prove themselves to the property owner who might have been skeptical," said Spaceworks Manager Heather Joy.

If you're one of the successful ones like Tinkertopia also on busy Pacific Avenue, you will eventually pay rent.

"It's like you're growing up, you're signing the papers and make it official," said Tinkertopia Owner Darcy Anderson. "For us, it really felt like we made it."

Joy said 80 percent of Spaceworks businesses have transitioned to rent-paying tenants.

"We're preserving the history and we're also transforming it for the future," said Joy.

Currently spaceworks has about 20 projects waiting to fill a space. The program isn't just looking for entrepreneurs, but property owners to partner with them.

For more information, go to www.SpaceworksTacoma.com.