Introducing Level Up Downtown, a new initiative by the Downtown Boston BID designed to revitalize and redefine downtown Boston. By supporting Boston’s emerging entrepreneurs and creative practitioners, the program aims to reduce retail vacancies, promote long-term entrepreneurial ventures, and showcase unique pop-ups, with a special focus on elevating BIPOC-led businesses.
Level Up Downtown is committed to establishing downtown Boston as a hub for entertainment and nightlife, enriched with the city’s emerging creative practitioners and modern retail offerings, making it a prime destination for residents, office workers, and visitors. With an investment of more than $2 million over the next three years, in addition to direct support for local businesses provided through the City of Boston’s S.P.A.C.E. Grant program, the initiative will introduce innovative retailers, activate vacant storefronts, feature captivating public art, enhance our bustling restaurant scene, and support the development of a lively late night economy.
Leveling Up Downtown
Through Level Up Downtown, the Downtown Boston BID is focusing on advancing the following strategies:
Identifying New Retailers
The BID plays an active role in recruiting non-profit and small business entrepreneurs who want to locate in Downtown Boston. This work includes a match-making initiative to link property owners with potential new tenants, and wrap-around services to help new tenants design and open their new storefront, market their business, and succeed downtown.
Activating Vacant Storefronts
We are developing new neighborhood pop-up business incubation spaces and new community gathering spaces inspired by the BID’s initial “3rd Space” pop-up arts and cultural events venue that drew thousands of visitors during a three-month trial run in early 2023.
Displaying Destination-Worthy Art & Programming
Working alongside local artists and arts organizations, we’re activating broad sections of the neighborhood through a newly-launched contemporary public art program and a major expansion of destination-worthy event offerings, such as block parties, multi-day festivals, and new programming partnerships.
Enhancing Marketing & Communications Efforts
We are creating new campaigns to support the district’s booming restaurant scene, including efforts promoting lunch, dinner and late-night options for residents, workers and visitors.
Supporting the Development of a Late Night Economy
Downtown Boston is fun to explore at all hours of the day. That’s why we are encouraging policy development and zoning alignment around a 24-hour neighborhood that supports hospitality workers, tourists, students, and more in their enjoyment of Downtown.
A Focus on BIPOC-led Businesses
Prior to the pandemic, BIPOC business owners were already under-represented downtown compared to the rest of the city, according to data from the Boston Planning & Development Agency. The pandemic likely exacerbated this trend.
Approximately 19% of Boston businesses are located downtown, compared to roughly 7% of minority-owned businesses. While downtown concentrates a higher representation among minority-owned businesses than some neighborhoods, it needs to make significant progress in order to achieve representation that equals — or exceeds — its share of the city’s businesses.
Level Up Downtown is closing this gap. By seeking emerging entrepreneurs and creative practitioners, with a specific focus on BIPOC-led businesses, the BID is positioning downtown Boston as a destination for authentic and equitable retail, innovation, and creativity.
Interested in opening downtown? The Downtown Boston BID helps businesses through every step of the process — from finding the perfect location to navigating permits and approvals. Here are just some of the free services we offer:
- Providing letters of support for funding, licensing, and permits
- Offering customized guidance on available storefronts
- Advocating on your behalf with local landlords
- Providing technical expertise with the S.P.A.C.E. Grant program application
- Expediting to assisting with permits and approvals
- Marketing and supporting day-to-day operations of your business once you open
Property Owners and Representatives
Do you have vacant space in downtown Boston? Through our strategic matchmaking initiative, we can connect property owners with aspiring entrepreneurs and potential new tenants. We also provide comprehensive wrap-around services to support new tenants in designing, opening, and marketing their new storefronts, aiming to ensure their success in Downtown Boston.
Let’s Level Up Downtown! Contact us today to get involved.
Manager, Level Up Downtown Initiative
Downtown Boston Business Improvement District