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Open to Possibilities

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The Lower East Side of Manhattan has gone through revitalization, gentrification and other changes over the past few years, but there are still more than 200 empty storefronts and lots in the neighborhood.

That will begin to change over the course of the next few months as miLES, an interdisciplinary group of educators, designers and other professionals, begins turning these underused spaces into vibrant community spots -- offering a temporary home for emerging projects and providing inclusive economic opportunities for those living in the area. The miLES team endeavors to foster creative and economic opportunities for local storefronts, and by extension, the neighborhood and the city.

Springwise reports that the startup has created a “storefront transformer” -- a 6-ft. cube of modular components that can be assembled as furniture and structural elements of a space as needed. The team is reported to have worked some deals with local property owners to help open up spaces like bar backrooms and utilize the “closed” hours of coffee shops and offices.

miLES -- which stands for Made in the Lower East Side -- has already teamed with seven startups and community businesses and began showcasing the project last month. Plans call for the first empty spaces to be repurposed as a miniature museum, an educational classroom, a nonprofit headquarters and a restaurant.

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