The new Popularise hinges on an open-platform discussion forum and the use of Drawing Boards, the goal of which is to allow anyone to post and crowdsource a DC real estate project. While still focused on particular properties, the website is now geared towards discussion and comments. More talking, less voting.
(When Popularise launched last winter, users voted on businesses that they thought would be a good fit for the building at 1351 H Street NE, with the idea that the winning concept would at least be considered for the space.)
“When we launched, we didn’t know what to expect, and we didn’t know what the results would be,” co-founder Ben Miller told UrbanTurf. As the site attracted more users, Miller said that businesses and potential tenants “came out of the woodwork.” Though the website was creating awareness between tenants and property owners, the founders realized that there was a communication gap and that the current structure was limiting the scope of what the site could do. Thus, Drawing Boards were born.
A few Drawing Boards
Drawing Boards launched today with four properties, and Miller tells us that a handful more will be added in the near future. In addition to 1351 H Street NE, on the map is a building owned by Lustine Realty at the southeast corner of 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW and a vacant building across from the Wonder Bread factory redevelopment at 626 S Street NW. Instead of having users vote on what stores could fill sections of these buildings, the property owners will speak directly to the audience, laying out constraints and soliciting suggestions on everything from concept to design. Developers, architects, brokers and residents are all welcome to join in the discussion.
Gary Lustine, who owns the building bearing his name on 14th Street, approached the folks over at Popularise to see if they could help him find a commercial tenant. (The second and third floors have been vacant for years.) While the property owners knew how to lease to national tenants, Miller said, they had no idea how to find local tenants. “The best they can do is post a phone number on a building. That’s basically what we’re replacing.”
Popularise is bringing its 1,500 current users into the next iteration of the site, and hopes to grow that number. They are also trying to stay true to their original mission: If hundreds of residents support a retail concept, Miller thinks that property owners will be persuaded. It will be interesting to see if that holds true as the site grows.
This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/popularise_launches_drawing_boards/5323
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