Vacant Storefront Program


As New Orleans continues to navigate through the COVID19 Pandemic, the Downtown Development District is aware that the number of vacant storefronts Downtown has increased, along with graffiti tags found on properties in the Central Business District. These quality-of-life issues can have a major impact on the perception of safety and the vitality of a healthy urban center.

As a result, the DDD has developed a Vacant Storefront Program to assist property owners in enhancing the appearance of their commercial properties during times when the retail space is in transition from one commercial tenant to the next in an effort to improve the streetscape in Downtown and to support the Economic Development opportunities of the District. This program is designed to enhance the storefront of a property by placing either a graphic panel or artist designed mural across the building. The program will improve the appearance of the otherwise vacant space and the street and encourage more economic development activity and commerce.

Grant Amounts and Eligibility:

The approval process for installing murals on private property within the Downtown Development District is administered by the DDD with partnership from the Arts Council of New Orleans. Proposed murals and their respective designs will be reviewed and are subject to approval by the DDD and the property owner. These art installations are likely to cost about $1,000 to $3,000 per typical storefront. Grant funds will be available upon satisfactory completion (unless otherwise agreed). Eligible applicants for the program are building owners and/or business tenants currently owning or leasing property within the legal boundaries of the DDD as well as prospective owners /businesses planning to locate within the area. 

Approval Process:

The application process is as follows:

1. Initial inquiry by property/business owner based on outreach by DDD staff or an expression of interest by the property/business owner.
2. Schedule an appointment and meet with DDD staff for an informational overview of the process and initial review of the proposed project.
3. Complete an Art Mural application.
4. Obtain a signed Art Agreement from the property owner and artist.
5. Prepare a mural presentation package.
6. Submit a complete mural presentation package to staff.
7. The property owner shall obtain necessary permits from the New Orleans Office of Safety and Permits which is subject to its regulation and oversight.
8. Complete the mural within 30 days of the application approval.

Criteria for Approval of Improvements Covered by Grant:

The work of the artist should be of professional quality; the mural itself must also be of exceptional quality and of enduring value for the City of New Orleans and the Downtown Development District. The mural should be professionally designed and executed with consideration to the following criteria:

1. Original art which pertains to New Orleans’ uniqueness and aligns with the DDD’s vision and economic development strategies.
2. Appropriateness of the visual imagery for all audiences (not reflecting partisan politics or containing sexual or religious content or expressing a commercial aspect, etc.).
3. Choice of visual imagery that enhances the aesthetic experience within the City and the character and nature of the site.
4. Appropriateness of the design for all view points to the mural (by pedestrians, from moving vehicles, seated audiences, etc.).
5. Suitability of the wall surface to receive proposed materials and to enable technical detailing, wall preparation required, and directional exposure of the mural to minimize fading of color and installation issues.
6. Installation must incorporate DDD logo and/or messaging.

Review of Project during Execution:

The DDD and Arts Council of New Orleans or another partner will review the project during the installation. The artist must notify staff at the end of each of the following steps:

1. After the surface is prepared (framing or glass) is constructed and ready for paint or vinyl.
2. Halfway through the painting process or after vinyl is installed.
3. Once complete and installed on the storefront, artist will submit required documentation, including a picture of the completed work and approval of the property owner to the DDD for its approval and final payment.

Please contact the DDD at 504-561-8927 for an application and for additional details.

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