"Pop-Up" Retailers, Restaurant Lined Up for Empty Coosa Street Storefronts


By Heather VacLav


Downtown Montgomery has come a long way in the past ten years, as the Alley Station continues to develop. The city says it took less than three years for the original Alley project to fill-up, with restaurants like Dreamland BBQ, Sa-Za and the newly added Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant.
The Alley then expaned with a cut-through to Coosa Street, and businesses will be filling up the empty storefronts.
"[Kyser Construction] has a preliminary agreement with a restaurant to go into that space and really turn on the lights, as what we like to say downtown, which is just another example of more food and beverage outlets interested in the alley area," said Chad Emerson, director of development for the city of Montgomery.
The Coosa Extension has two other empty spaces across the walk way from the soon-to-be restaurant, approximately 1,000 sq. ft. each. So the city is now taking ideas from major cities like Atlanta and New York City to bring life to those storefronts as "pop-up" retailers.
Designer Kelli Guthrie wants to pop-up her company, G.E.A.R. by Re-Invention, into one of the empty spaces on Coosa Street.    
"To have that kind of trial, time frame with the pop up store... is really ideal, it really is just a perfect situation," Guthrie said.
Emerson explains a "pop-up" is a temporary shop under a short termed lease. It's devised to so the retailer can test-drive the space to see if it works for them and the landlord can do the same.
Busy cutting and sewing in her design studio and shop, Guthrie reinvents re-cycled materials into home furnishings and accessories. However her space is not "showroom" ready, but she also is not ready for a long-term leasing commitment.
"[The pop-up] would allow me to not only have consumers come in, but decorators, interior designers, stores, locally and from the surrounding area to come and look to carry my product," she said.
And even though pop-ups may be new to Montgomery, the city believes it will cause other small and local businesses to step up to bring more retail downtown.
"You're bringing in your things, and you're creating the venues within the empty space," Guthrie explains, saying she's taking serious action about leasing the Coosa space. "Then it's creating life in that space and it's creating life downtown and people are actually getting visions about how they could use the space."
Kyser is not releasing what kind of restaurant will be opening up in the larger vacant space, but the city says both the pop-up businesses and restaurant will be open by first pitch of the Montgomery biscuit's baseball season in 2013.


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