Vacant Storefront Initiative

Cambridge is fortunate to have a robust local economy that extends to its retail and restaurant sectors. Even temporary vacancies through normal turnover can have a negative impact on the perception of a commercial corridor’s vitality and quality of the consumer shopping experience. The goal of activating vacant retail is maintaining street level activity, protecting property values, maintaining neighborhood integrity and accessibility, safeguarding against economic property blight, protecting city resources, and ensuring the safe and sanitary maintenance of ground floor vacant properties.

Vacant Storefront Database

Previous data sets are available upon request by contacting Sarah Jane Huber at or 617/349-4624.

Looking for a space? Fill out our Site Finder Form and we will send you a listing of available spaces that fit your needs.

Click here to view the Vacant Storefront Database Storymap

Storefront Activation Resources

The City of Cambridge encourages property owners to find ways to activate their ground floor storefronts between tenants. Below are a few resources for activating your storefront:

No Longer Empty - New York City based No Longer Empty activates public engagement with contemporary art through curated, community-responsive exhibitions and education programs in unique spaces.

CultureHouse - A pop-up community space.  

Cambridge Arts – This City agency is happy to connect property owners to local artists who are interested in temporary installations or pop-up projects in vacant spaces. If you are a Cambridge property owner that would like to learn more about this opportunity, contact the Community Arts Administrator at 617/349-4385.

Isenberg Projects - Is a Boston-based experiential marketing and events company that has worked on a variety of temporary event spaces.    

Vacant Storefront Best Practices

As part of the Retail Strategy Plan, CDD worked with the consultant Larisa Ortiz Associates to conduct a vacant storefront best practices scan, with the goal of identifying strategies that will help the City address the ongoing challenges associated with storefronts that are vacant and not currently under lease negotiations. The consultant conducted a scan of best practices previously implemented in municipalities that can be implemented in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These best practices succeed in managing vacancies and mitigating the vacancies' impact on the local business community. 

Click here for the Storefront Vacancies Best Practices Report

Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest

CDD and the Cambridge Arts Council are looking for original artwork, photography, or designs that can be reproduced and used for temporary window displays for vacant ground floor storefronts. The goal of the project is to have a variety of work from which Cambridge property owners can choose to print and put into their vacant ground-floor storefronts for purposes of activation and placemaking. All artists, designers, youth, and others are welcome to apply and there is no entry fee. Cambridge residents are encouraged to apply. Click here for contest details. 


For More Information

For more information on this project, please contact Sarah Jane Huber at or 617/349-4624.