Thursday, February 23, 2012

A waste of space, and how to end it

Something that's been bugging me for a while is the amount of unused and underused space on Capitol Hill. Sometimes it's just for hours or half-days, like how nightclubs are empty in the daytime and Lowell School is empty at night. Sometimes it's for months at a time, like the empty storefront on Broadway that keeps trying (and failing) to be a Thai restaurant.

This waste of space bugs me because there are so many people who'd like to use a storefront or a school room or a nightclub for those short periods of open time: artists practicing a performance, community groups planning a festival, a group of more than 5 friends just trying to find a place where they can watch the Oscars in peace. But for some reason, there seems to be no way to unite the supply and demand. A little help, invisible hand of the market?

Since the invisble hand seems to be busy, I've decided to step up and do something to end this wasteful situation. Since I'm in grad school, that something is a thesis on how to unite the supply and demand for non-residential temporary space in a dense urban neighborhood (i.e. Capitol Hill)...basically, a how-to guide for making the Zipcar or AirBnB for temporary space rentals.

I'm going to look into collaborative consumption models, supply of and demand for temporary space on Cap Hill, barriers to the creation of a temporary space rental market, and what a market maker/trusted intermediary would need to provide to make renting out space for short periods of time (hours to months) economically feasible. And I'm going to do all this by the beginning of June. (Go, Jen, go!)

In the meantime, I'll keep you posted on the neat stuff I find here and on Twitter (@comradebunny).  Hopefully the process will help me think about our neighborhood's wasted space problem, and it'll help my faithful readers find interesting ways to keep amused, save money, and maybe even save the planet.