Find out how About Space is helping build a vibrant Hutt City by filling empty CBD storefronts with creative, business and community projects.
About About Space
About Space Hutt City is a city-wide programme that uses vacant shops as short-term pop-ups for local artists and creative businesses.
About Space started in 2013. Since then we've worked to reduce the number of vacant spaces in the CBD:
- 93 projects across 42 properties and three public spaces
- of the 42 properties, 22 are now commercially tenanted
- many of those tenants are new businesses that brought over 60 jobs into the CBD
- more than 31,000 people visited an About Space Project in the CBD.
The programme's success is largely due to generous property owners that allow the use of the vacant spaces. The main benefit to the owners is staging the space for a future commercial tenant.
Following the success of About Space in the CBD we've set up an About Space programme in Naenae.
The projects we support have a local focus and must bring new and unique ideas to our CBD. About Space's pop-up shops and community displays help:
- brighten up central Hutt City
- inspire Hutt City residents to shop locally
- increase visibility of local artists and creatives
- increase visibility of storefronts
- give new businesses a chance at running in a central space.
Each project applicant will be held to a set of criteria based on the list below. We realise there are always exceptions to the rules, so a project may qualify if there is an available space.
Project adds life to the CBD
About Space is designed to bring life back to Hutt City. The projects placed in shop fronts need to be interesting enough to bring people to the CBD and hopefully will continue to bring them back. The projects need to turn vacant spaces into vibrant spaces and be an asset to the street.
It is unique and local
All project must be created locally and have a level of uniqueness which would not be found in a suburban shopping centre. There will also be a limit to gallery type spaces. About Space is all about showcasing people making and presenting original items.
High degree of professionalism
There will always be a limited number of available spaces, so the most successful projects will be those with a high level of creativity and professionalism. This professionalism includes the appearance of the space activated, such as fit out, washing the windows inside and out, sweeping and vacuuming. Causing no permanent damage to walls, floors or any part of the space and not making any permanent changes to the floor plan of the space/building is expected of the participant(s).
Project has the potential to be an on-going activity
About Space is only interested in projects which can sustain on-going use (at least thirty days). An installation or project which is only a few days or hours will not qualify for this programme.
Project is ready to go
Once the application is approved the project needs to be ready and available to go, applicant has the time and commitment to run the project for the stated amount of time in the licence agreement. Project timing will be based on the availability of vacant spaces; most approvals from the property owner will be within less than a month prior to the requested installation date.
Has the support of a property owner
Every project will be accepted based on available properties and approval from the property owner.
Having a suitable property for a project is the main factor to approving any applicant. There will be nothing About Space programme can do if there is not a suitable property.
Applications will be reviewed based on the criteria above, then discussed with the property owners to confirm what they would make their properties available for.
Once approved a meeting will be arranged to tour the property, meet the owner if necessary, sign licence agreements and plan installation. About Space’s key focus is to promote original creativity from local art/creative groups and community groups. Projects that are similar, or copy existing businesses in the CBD will be refused.
About Space is a short term programme to fill empty storefronts in the Hutt CBD. The licence agreement is based on accessing property on a rolling 30 day term, with the ability to extend for a second 30 day term per project. If the property owner has the opportunity to lease the space to a commercial entity the applicant will be given a 10 day notice to vacate.
Keep in mind that all spaces available for the About Space Programme are done so on the stipulation that if the building is sold, or the space is leased the applicant will have to vacate in ten days or at the end of the licence agreement, as agreed to by the property owner.
About Space will work with the property owners to offer spaces at no to low costs to the applicant. Participation fees will be based on the level of access of the space and intention to sell from that space. About Space will cover the costs of power paid directly to the property owner. The goal is to nurture projects to becoming a full on business and local on a permanent basis in the Hutt CBD.
- About Space Programme will create a package of collateral for marketing your project. This includes a business sign that will be displayed in one of the street facing windows of the location the project will be placed.
- Printed collateral can include an A3 poster and/or a DL flyer. Templates have been created to brand the programme and feature your project.
- Every project will be uploaded to the About Space page on the Hutt City Council.
- Projects may also be added to Facebook and Our Hutt City monthly insert, as long as the timing of the project works with the timing on the publication.
- Posters and flyers are distributed to the eight libraries, Community Halls, and Pools around the Hutt City; the amount of printed collateral available is up to you depending on your distribution system.
- You should contact the media, a media release template is available on the About Space info page, or Google ‘media release template’ for online options.
- Host an event that relates to your project, an opening night, special presentations or other activities can help boost awareness of your project.
- Introduce yourself to the area business owners and staff. They can be great advocates for promoting the project, and in reverse you promoting their businesses.
- Check to see if there are any businesses already in the CBD that may be interested in partnering with you to help promote both the project and the business.
- Once a project is approved, we'll match you with suitable space for your project. It's at this point where you'll need to sign the licence agreement and negotiate any fees or rents before setting up the project.
- Once the location has been approved, you'll have to draw up a plan of how the space will be fitted out for your project.
- Try to find alternative ways to hang on the walls of any space to reduce all potential damage as it will be your responsibility to fix, replace or repair all damage to the space prior to vacating and returning the key. The space must be returned to the owner in the same or better condition when you vacate the premises.
- If you're successful, you must keep the space neat and tidy, both inside and outside, especially at the end of term. Every project will have a set of data that needs to be collected for reporting back to council.
Note: Access to the space by the owner and all of their associates i.e.: real estate agents and potential leasers to show/view the space must be made by the participant(s).
Existing business which already rent a property, a business project hoping to relocate from a commercial space to an About Space property are not eligible.
The priority of About Space is to fill current vacant space, not undermine existing businesses and existing commercial tenancies. This programme is designed to encourage new ideas, new initiatives which are not directly in competition with existing businesses.
Properties are not to be lived in at all.
About Space is happy to assist an applicant in their goal to become a business owner providing this is their first business venture and it is not indirect competition with an existing CBD business.
Pop-up spaces will be treated as and expect to operate as a permanent business. Requirements include a professional looking fit-out for the space, set trading hours which need to be adhered to.
Paying a peppercorn rent which will be pre-determined and agreed upon prior to access of the space.
Having available a written plan for growth of the business for the project duration and beyond.
We're looking for vacant spaces
We'd like to thank the building owners that have taken part in the About Space project over the last several years.
We're on the lookout for new spaces in the city centre to revitalise and turn into vibrant business and community spaces. Get in touch if you have a vacant space that you'd like to offer to us.
For more information