Something is about to pop up in the heart of downtown. Actually, it's six somethings.
Coming in time for the holiday shopping season is a "retail pop-up village" with six carts — Retail Merchandising Units (RMU). These are venues for small specialty retailing as the city promotes pedestrian shopping at Liberty Bell Plaza, where the Broadway sidewalk bulges wide in front of Il Fornaio and a fountain.
"We want to be flexible," said Ron Gerber, Walnut Creek's economic development manager. "We're looking at a variety of things. Maybe some could be trendy and chic. There's a whole array of children's toys — green toys or puppets, for example, that may not have their own stores — that would be great to have out there as one of the venues or vendors."
The city is partnering with Main Street Property Services of Lafayette, a real estate firm that has handled leasing programs and remerchandising for Salvio Pacheco Square in Concord and Park Plaza in Lafayette.
The RMUs could be incubators as well. The idea is a growth area for local retailers who might not be ready to sign up for rents at places like Broadway Plaza or Broadway Plaza, Gerber said, but would have the opportunity to take the next step "to see if they're ready to go big time." It's a small place where a growing business could see how the public responds to retail concepts.
There would be more than retail carts. "It's an opportunity for the city to make that a gathering place," said Gerber. "It has not been activated to its potential." Gerber said perhaps "strolling minstrels" could provide entertainment there. Il Fornaio has outdoor tables for diners and latte quaffers.
Liberty Bell Plaza is a stone's throw from Nordstrom, Apple, Neiman Marcus, and the newest retail engine, Anthropologie.
The carts can be locked up overnight. When the gates are closed, the idea is to have historical scenes of Walnut Creek showing.
In August purchased six retail merchandising units from Creations Global, Inc. for $156,588.
The RMUs would be leased for three months, six months or one year, according to the agenda report on the initiative prepared for an Aug. 7 City Council meeting.
The agenda report states:
- The units would be rented for an average of $1,500 per RMU per month.
- The 10-year projection is that the city would generate $966,000 from the RMUs, the agenda report states.