Between 8th and 9th avenues and J Street downtown, there’s an empty space on the bottom floor of the TR Produce Building.
Jason Kulpa, CEO of Underground Elephant, an enterprise software company that provides companies a platform to generate sales leads, wants to put his 85 employees — and many more he wants to hire — there, but the city won’t let him. The issue: He doesn’t sell food or beer.
He will need special permission, and that will take time.
Downtown boosters have been talking up the city’s central core as a garden where tech companies should plant their seeds. But Underground Elephant’s struggle to move into an attractive, funky space is one angle on a bigger problem with that dream: Downtown doesn’t have the space or the old buildings that seem to have captured young entrepreneurs’ imaginations.