Popularise Polls Residents for Development Ideas

by Shilpi Paul

Popularise’s test site at 1351 H Street NE

Do you really want a bakery or a restaurant in your neighborhood? Thanks to a new start-up, you could soon have a way to tell that to real estate developers.

The goal of the new website Popularise is to use the wisdom of the masses to collect ideas for new developments. Ben Miller, a real estate developer, founded Popularise with his brother Daniel and partners Brandon Jenkins and Kenny Shin.

“My time working in big real estate taught me why the wrong things get built,” Ben’s bio states. Miller hopes Popularise will democratize the development process and bring in more original, less “cookie-cutter” retail.

From Popularise.com:

Today, neighborhood development is dominated by large institutional companies that use Wall Street money to finance their projects. These companies typically know nothing about the neighborhoods in which they’re developing. The decision-makers are out of touch with the realities of what residents like you want, need, and use.

Here is how Popularise works: First, real estate developers post projects on the site, then residents log in to contribute ideas, check out the short list of developable buildings, and vote on what they’d like to see there.

The founders are testing the concept with a building they recently purchased at 1351 H Street NE. Right now, the site is invitation-only and there are just a couple dozen votes, but local clothing designer DURKL’s flagship store is barely beating out a gourmet pizzeria as the top request. There is one other interesting twist to the new site. Eventually, the plan is to allow residents who live in the area to buy into the business and thus have a vested interest in its success.

Of course, the poll results will only be useful to developers if Popularise gains a critical mass of users and those users are right about what they will actually buy. It’ll be interesting to see which ideas rise to the top of the heap as Popularise gets more…popular.

See other articles related to: popularise, dclofts

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/popularise_polls_residents_for_development_ideas/4748


  1. Mike Kiefer said at 9:41 am on Monday December 12, 2011:

    This has been an idea moving around DC for several years, the building next to the proposed one had a similar effort started some 3 years ago with http://www.cooltownstudios.com/

    It is a great concept overall using a crowd collaborative approach to build a space the community will use and want!

  1. bell said at 9:47 am on Monday December 12, 2011:

    If successful, a real estate game changer.

  1. xmal said at 11:17 am on Monday December 12, 2011:

    Clearly, what this space needs is a gourmet burger restaurant!

    Seriously though, I hope they have a psychologist on staff to tease out what people want versus what they can pay for. Everyone wants both lower taxes and more services, free parking and plenty of it, and express buses/trains that have only two stops: their home and their workplace.

  1. Mike Kiefer said at 12:10 pm on Monday December 12, 2011:

    To xmal - As you can imagine many of the issues revolve around the developers having their expectations of what is financially possible and the average neighbor or interested party having their idea of what should go there. What I saw was at times a pretty wide gap between sides. I think Urban Turf wrote about Jair Lynch’s efforts when they tried getting the crowd to decide on the commercial space at the Solei on 14th St.  You get lots of free ideas and momentum but things seem to stall out.  This group will need something more than just a website to energize a crowd of influencers to participate.

  1. DC Joe said at 1:25 pm on Monday December 12, 2011:

    This is a great concept! Love it!

  1. H Street Landlord said at 1:34 pm on Monday December 12, 2011:

    Love it. Especially like the idea of being able to invest financially…

  1. Alyce Kirk, Director, Business Development, Lessar said at 3:13 pm on Monday December 12, 2011:

    Soliciting creative ideas with supportive data is a move in the right direction, but it will take more weight than posting to influence developers. Strategic planning and the presentation of demographics that support the enterprise are a must.

  1. vivian sanders said at 2:09 pm on Monday December 17, 2012:

    I would like to see a Steak n Shake,Burgerstreet,24 hr gym with a sweatroom,,Cheddars,DSW,Soup or Salad,Red Lobster,Cracker Barrell

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