Guest blogger Brian Goodman is Innovation and Systems Manager with the City of Boston’s Office of Business Development.
The old joke says that a true local will define a space by what was once there, rather than what exists there now. You've probably heard it before: "You know - the bakery, in the old Woolworth's building?"
Neighborhoods change. The right use for a particular space changes; it's as dynamic as the community the space serves. But the retail mix in our neighborhoods can both shape and be shaped by its residents.
As it completes the rehabilitation of the historic Vertullo Building at 74-84 Fairmount Avenue, Historic Boston Incorported (HBI) and the City of Boston’s Office of Business Development are deploying Textizen, a web platform that collects SMS data from local residents to inform decision-making, to see what happens when shoppers in the Hyde Park Main Streets district have a voice in filling the available retail storefronts at Vertullo.
HBI has hung posters in the windows of the empty storefronts that direct shopper to text their preference for the type of retail uses they'd like to see fill one of three available spots. Voting is a simple as texting in your preference to a number shown on the poster.
This may benefit the retail leasing process in several ways: residents can communicate their preference to the property owner (HBI); HBI can better target its outreach to potential tenants; HBI can support demand potential in talks with prospective lessees; and a new tenant will have an early lead list generated from the voters.
If the initial trials are successful, the City will be looking for ways to expand the model and use polling to create more visibility for other available commercial spaces in Boston’s neighborhood business districts.
If you live in Hyde Park, be sure to swing by the Vertullo Building and cast your vote, or view the poster below and cast your vote remotely.