Christchurch's GapFiller initiative has been, well, awesome. They started after the September 2010 quake and, since February, have had more vacant lots as potential sites. But, a fair number of those sites are now turning into Wilson's-managed parking lots; Gapfiller's having more trouble in finding venues.
These projects are great and help bring foot traffic to surrounding businesses. Open up a set of GapFiller Kickstarter projects for different sites. Let surrounding businesses know about the project. Set a project goal that provides enough money to cover rent on the site. Kickstarter works via assurance contracts: if they don't raise enough for the project to go ahead, nobody pays; you only pay if enough money is raised in total for the project to be viable. And, there's plenty of opportunity for GapFiller to turn the assurance contract into a dominant assurance contract by providing "GapFiller Supporter" tags to local businesses making the pledge even if the supported project doesn't go through. Then local businesses who'd benefit from the project have some incentive to sign on quickly rather than wait around to see if everybody else donates enough to make the project viable. And the guy with a vacant lot gets at least some revenue stream.
Let me get them started. I'll chip in $25 towards any GapFiller Kickstarter campaign around the New Brighton Mall; $75 if it's a project that my 1 and/or 4 year olds would enjoy (so things that run prior to 7 PM, ideally on weekends). There are a few flattened sites around there from which to choose. It isn't much money, but that's the point of KickStarter - lots of people each putting down a little bit of money gets the project going.
And I'd probably throw a few bucks towards other things around town that I'd expect we'd enjoy.