Group aims to fill vacant storefronts with super short-term tenants

August 20, 2012 03:30PM

A Lower East Side group is convinced it can transform vacant retail storefronts into community gathering places rather than blights on the neighborhood. DNAinfo reported that the group MiLES, which stands for Made in the Lower East Side, is vying for funding to help launch a program for very short-term tenants to occupy the estimated 200 empty retail spaces in the neighborhood.

“This could be daily, weekly, monthly and — ambitiously — hourly,” Eric Ho, a member of Architecture Commons, one of the groups that comprise MiLES, told DNA info.

MiLES aims to build an online directory of vacant stores and lots and allow community groups, businesses and local residents to rent them directly from the landlord. The idea is similar to the rent-a-backyard concept on Ludlow Street.

Ho has pitched the idea to Community Board 3, discussed it with local landlords and is now competing for a $5,000 grant from the Good Maker Art Challenge that would fund a portable presentation to pitch the concept to landlords.

MiLES hopes to be in business by next summer. Ho said the biggest concern among area landlords is the ability for short-term tenants to move out quickly in the event that they are able to find traditional, long-term tenants. [DNAinfo] — Adam Fusfeld