Gotta start somewhere: Small business incubator to open in Downtown Norfolk

A artist rendering of Selden Market, set to open this fall in downtown Norfolk.
A artist rendering of Selden Market, set to open this fall in downtown Norfolk. (Photo courtesy of Downtown Norfolk Council)

NORFOLK — When a mental light bulb begins to brighten and a business idea blooms, the planning it requires to take shape can be arduous, but a city partnership aims to make it easier this year.

Downtown Norfolk Council announced it will open Selden Market this fall, a storefront incubator with short-term leases and low rent, between Main and Plume Streets in an effort to stimulate street-level business in the city.

“This market concept is a culmination of all of the lessons we’ve learned from the successful Vibrant Spaces program,” Drew Ungvarsky, CEO of Grow said in a press release. “The goals for Selden Market are regular activation, a unique atmosphere and continual transformation.”

Vibrant Spaces, an incentive program to develop street-level startups, is teaming up with the City of Norfolk to open the spot. The program has awarded several grants and helped jump start businesses in downtown Norfolk since it formed in 2015, according to the release.

The incubator will open at Selden Arcade, which will transform into 11 retail spaces, 10 pop-up booths, a kitchen and lounge areas, according to its website.

Storefront incubators at the market start at $225 a month for a six-month lease for new businesses. Established businesses can also set up shop at the market to mentor new startups, starting at $550 a month for a one-year lease, according to the site.

Pop-up booths, which aim to test new products or services, start at $100 a week or $300 a month to rent.

The first round of applications to rent a space at the market opened Wednesday and will close July 13. After making tenant selections on August 4, the market will open in the fall at an undetermined date, according to the website.

“One thing we discovered was the need for smaller spaces that allow businesses to get started and then grow,” Mary Miller, president and CEO of Downtown Norfolk Council, said in the release. “We anticipate this will stimulate businesses across the city and provide a learning and sharing environment.

The Selden Market will host an open house Saturday, June 17 for people to explore the environment and spaces.

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