Neighborhood Business Competition Puts Decision Making In Hands Of Community

The Greater Remington Improvement Association (GRIA), in partnership with Johns Hopkins University and Seawall has announced the launch of the Remington Storefront Challenge (RSC)— a Shark Tank-style search for local entrepreneurs— to start temporary retail concepts in two storefronts in what organizers say is one of Baltimore’s hottest neighborhoods.

Winners will receive between 12 and 24 months of free rent along with funding to help deck out their new spaces, plus technical assistance to help achieve their goals.

“We are hoping to increase the diversity of retail business owners and retail offerings in the neighborhood while creating a more walkable, inviting neighborhood,” said K.C. Kelleher, a member of GRIA, an independent, resident-based neighborhood association that provides an inclusive forum for discussion of Remington community issues and facilitates resident-led initiatives. “We recognize how difficult starting a business can be, so we are hoping this incentive program creates opportunities for new businesses that otherwise may have struggled to turn a dream into a reality.”

With support from sponsors, including Johns Hopkins University, Central Baltimore Partnership, Howard Bank and Younts Design, the Remington Storefront Challenge seeks businesses that are viable to Remington— specifically what the neighborhood says it needs and wants.

Applicants with young businesses and new ideas will be asked to demonstrate their experience, passion and ability to execute their business plan, including how their concept will increase foot traffic to the area, and cross pollinate with the other winner and existing businesses.

“We are looking for both the dreamers and the doers— entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, makers and artists who will complement, not compete— with the neighborhood’s existing businesses,” Kelleher said. “Our goal is to find two of the most inclusive and useful concepts for the community as determined by the community.”

Online applications must be submitted by January 8, 2019. The top 10 entries will be selected and on January 22, 2019 and will be invited to participate in a round of private business pitches that will be reviewed by a panel of judges made up of Remington residents, anchor institutions and local business owners.

“It’s exciting to see so much activity and so many new businesses in Remington,” said Mitch Bonanno, Chief Real Estate Officer for the Johns Hopkins University. “The University has supported GRIA, Seawall, and others in making it happen, and we’re honored to continue that support in the Remington Storefront Challenge. We can’t wait to see what new businesses our Remington neighbors choose to occupy these two prime retail locations.”

RSC provides two options for locations— 300 W. 29th Street— a 1,240 square-foot space where the current structure will be renovated with a brand-new interior and façade, which officials say will create an incredible working space with curb appeal. The second option is located at 2700 Remington Avenue, Suite 100, a mixed-use building that houses retail and wellness along with 108 residential apartments. The 900-square-foot space is fully finished with floor-to-ceiling windows.

“We have no preconceived notions of what specific businesses should go into these two spaces, but we are looking for business owners with roots in the area, a commitment to serving all members of the community, and a unique product or service that Remingtonians don’t currently have access to,” Kelleher said. “We are looking for businesses that give neighbors more and better retail options, and only our neighbors know what they want and need.”

Community participation in the project is vital, according to Kelleher.

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