MS. REBECCA SHEIR
And finally, today, a little riddle for you. What do you get when you take a vacant storefront, you mix in some local artists, you pick a limited span of time and you open your doors? The answer, a Temporium. It's a new initiative by D.C.'s Office of Planning to temporarily repurpose empty or underutilized spaces to attract more people and ideally, retailers, to a neighborhood.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
A spot in Mount Pleasant is one of the first to be awarded a Temporium grant. And Jonna McKone paid a visit to this visiting shop.
MS. JONNA MCKONE
If you walk through the doors of 3068 Mount Pleasant Street today, you'll find yourself in a shop full of art, crafts and clothing from more than 30 local artists. It's a pop-up retail shop, around for only a few weeks. But not too long ago, this spot was something else entirely.
MS. JESSICA SHERMAN
It was originally a deli and has been vacant for probably a little over a year now maybe longer.
Project manager, Jessica Sherman, led the effort to convert the space into a Temporium.
And when we first came in, it was a blank canvas for us. It looks and feels like a retail store, but it also feels like a art space. We're trying to show that selling crafts, handmade goods is commercially viable.
Not to mention attractive to people from all over the D.C. area and once they come, Sherman and her colleagues hope these people will stay. The D.C. Office of Planning's temporary urbanism initiative is awarding grants for a handful of similar projects in an effort to spur revitalization and bring new services to city neighborhoods.
Last summer, Phillipa Hughes helped host the city's first Temporium in a former one-room library on H Street Northeast. She says Temporiums can help showcase the possibilities of unutilized spaces.
MS. PHILLIPA HUGHES
Especially with small businesses and small boutiques. I think some people have a difficult time envisioning what a blank space can be and so when it's filled with people and products, you can start imagining, yes, this is what could happen here.
Hughes says these sorts of events and spaces can build an audience for future uses. The H Street Temporium drew nearly 1,600 visitors to the growing commercial corridor. She says the original site itself helped.
Just the building alone draws attention. It's round, it's all glass, you can see right into it.
As did the way the artists involved transformed it.
They built walls out of found materials. One wall was made out of burlap. A bunch of others painted murals. It truly is blank in the sense that there was nothing inside, but the possibility of imagination.
Jackie Flanagan owns a Mount Pleasant Temporium storefront. She says the greatest part of temporary urbanism is how it spotlights one location while highlighting an entire neighborhood.
MS. JACKIE FLANAGAN
You just hope that all those visitors that come to discover something new, that it sticks. That even while they're there they come back and also discover that there's this great little restaurant next door that's been making Salvadoran food forever and so, hey, maybe I'll come back.
And that would suit Flanagan just fine. After the Temporium runs its course, she will use the space as a new home for her clothing shop, Nana, which she's relocated from U Street.
For a few years, we were walking by this block thinking, wouldn't it be cool if, and then all of a sudden, one day you've ripped the band-aid off and you do it.
Flanagan says she's taking a risk bringing her business to Mount Pleasant, but it's one she hopes will be reduced, at least in part by all the new visitors coming to the Temporium. And on a recent Saturday afternoon, there are plenty, many of whom seem hungry for more spaces like this.
I think it's quirky.
I think it's always exciting when local artists and craftsmen and women are showcased.
No wonder that they're using the space. It's been empty. Will eventually be occupied by another business?
A number of customers ventured from other neighborhoods. That sort of cross-town travel thrills Jackie Flanagan.
It's great to see everyone in Mount Pleasant come out and everyone outside of Mount Pleasant get a little bit of an understanding of it.
The Temporium won't be around much longer, but business owners like Flanagan and organizers like Jessica Sherman are hoping visitors return to the area even after the Temporium closes its doors.
Ask me in a month, where did these people come from and I'm going to be smiling and hopefully saying they came from everywhere.
In addition to arts and crafts, the Temporium offers events for closer curious residents like a how-to session on radio documentary and a print making class. But given the way the whole thing is popping up, causing a stir and then disappearing again, the Temporium is truly an event in of itself. I'm Jonna McKone.
The Mount Pleasant Temporium is open through March 13. for more information and to see photos of the Temporium, check out our website, metroconnection.org. I love this song and that's "Metro Connection" for this week.
We heard from WAMU's Kavitha Cardoza, David Schultz, Bryan Russo and Sabri Ben-Achour and reporters Emily Friedmen, Jonna McKone and Kate Sheehy. Jim Asendio is our news director. Our ''Door to Door'' producers are Julia Edwards and Jonna McKone. No "Door To Door" this week obviously, but we'll be back so stay tuned. In the meantime, special thanks to Tobey Schreiner, Jonathon Charry, Andrew Chadwick, Margo Kelly, Timmy Olmstead, Kelin Quigley, Greg Peppers and Bill Redlin for their production help.
And to Dana Farrington and the WAMU digital media team for keeping our website up to date. Our theme song, ''Every Little Bit Hurts'' and our ''Door To Door'' theme "No Girl" are from the album "Title Tracks" by John Davis and used with permission of the Ernest Jennings Record Company. Visit our website, metroconnection.org, for a list of all the music we use.
You can also find links to our Twitter feed, our Facebook page and information about subscribing to the free "Metro Connection" podcast. We hope you can join us next time when we get into the St. Patrick's Day spirit with a little bit of luck. From the luck and curse of the Hope Diamond to the luck that led one third generation Washingtonian from drug addiction and homelessness to a life altering return to his first love.
So I ended up sleeping on the bridge on New York Avenue and one night. she just said, look, I'm going to put you in the hotel across the street, but Monday I'm coming back to pick you up and we going to find somewhere to get you some help.
I'm Rebecca Sheir and thanks for listening to "Metro Connection," a production of WAMU 88.5 news.
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