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January 29, 2018
 WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (January 29, 2018) – The West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and City of West Palm Beach are collaborating on an innovative program to bring interesting retail to Clematis Street. The business incubator idea was selected as a 2017 winner among 4,500 applicants to the Knight Cities Challenge that seeks community betterment ideas from the 26 communities where the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation invests. The grants fund ideas to make cities more vibrant places to live, work and play. Just 33 ideas, including West Palm Beach’s, were awarded grants that year.

West Palm Beach’s grant submission outlined a multi-faceted approach to incubating up to 12 interesting shopping experiences that were either new or trying to expand. They would be aggregated within a high-profile space the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency plans to comprehensively renovate at 314 Clematis Street. The renovation is being designed by Spanish architecture firm Ecosistema Urbano, which won the Van Alen Institute Shore to Core competition hosted by the Community Redevelopment Agency. Knight Foundation awarded $180,000 towards the project and starting today, January 29, new or existing businesses are invited to apply to participate in the 12 for 12: Pop-up to Rent business competition.

The goal is to create a healthy ecosystem of clustered storefronts in the Downtown core that complement each other’s services and create a vibrant, attractive experience for Downtown residents and visitors. The space is intended to provide financial and marketing assistance for new businesses to establish a presence and/or grow to a larger scale. The 12 businesses selected will receive two months of free rent and then scalable rent for up to two years after that to help get their businesses off the ground. Applications are expected from a wide range of businesses such as boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, home décor, clothing retailers, gourmet grocers, and others.

“By providing a low-cost entry into commercial space, we can provide the opportunity for companies who otherwise would have to operate out of a warehouse or online, reducing or eliminating public access,” said Raphael Clemente, Executive Director of the West Palm Beach DDA. “Ultimately, this accessible entry benchmark will fill the downtown vacancies, start new businesses, grow jobs, and provide reasons for visitors to keep returning, delivering on Downtown’s brand promise of being ‘Always Original,’” added Chris Roog, Director of Economic Development, City of West Palm Beach.

“We have made a commitment to expanding the city’s already strong base of small businesses.” said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. “This incubator space will help get 12 businesses off the ground, creating a new generation of success and prosperity rooted in a highly visible location on Clematis Street.”

To apply, businesses must visit and submit an application along with a 30-second video about their business and the value it will bring to Clematis Street. In March, semi-finalists will be selected and will be interviewed about their business plan. The twelve finalists will be selected in summer of 2018 and will prepare to open storefronts in the fall.

For more information and to apply to 12 for 12: Pop-up to Rent, visit On social media, the 12 for 12 project will use the hashtags #12x12wpb and #knightcities.

                A video describing the project can be found here:
                Social media accounts for 12x12 can be found here:
About the Downtown Development Authority
The West Palm Beach DDA is an independent taxing district created in 1967 by a special act of the Florida Legislature. Its mission is to promote and enhance a safe, vibrant Downtown for our residents, businesses and visitors through the strategic development of economic, social and cultural opportunities.
For more information about the DDA or Downtown West Palm Beach, please visit or call the DDA at (561) 833-8873.
About the City of West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach is a vibrant, resilient, inclusive and safe world-class city. The City of West Palm Beach partners with our communities to preserve and enhance quality of life through an extraordinary focus on service. West Palm Beach is a 4-STAR certified city.  For more information, visit:
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit
About the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency
Nationally recognized as one of the most innovative CRAs in the country, the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (WPB CRA) sets the standard for redevelopment through award-winning marketing and branding campaigns, events and attractive business incentive programs.  The mission of the WPB CRA is to enhance the viability, long-term stability and the overall economic health of the Downtown City Center and Northwood/Pleasant City districts, core areas in the City of West Palm Beach.  For more about the WPB Community Redevelopment Agency, visit  
Tony Theissen, Senior Brand Manager/Media Strategist
(561) 832-3231

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