Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

A Collaborate Effort for a New Community Gathering Spot & Much More

Written by Missy Vanderpool, Association Executive, Henderson Audubon Board of REALTORS®

In early 2016, the Henderson Audubon Board of REALTORS® attended a workshop about placemaking grants. We were hooked and decided to get engaged in a placemaking project in our community. Taking what we learned at the workshop, we reached out to our local Main Street organization to discuss creating a new pocket park in Henderson, KY. We presented this idea to the city commissioners and let them know that the National Association of REALTORS® had a placemaking grant available for these types of projects and that we would love to be involved in the project. The seed was planted. Several months later, a committee was formed – and we were invited to be a part of the committee.

Sunrise at The Perch, Henderson, Kentucky

© Henderson Audubon Board of REALTORS®

The community partners that were represented on the committee were The Downtown Henderson Partnership, The Henderson City Manager, Public Information Officer, City Engineer, two City Commissioners, Henderson Tourist Commission, Ohio Valley Art League, The Preston Foundation, The Henderson Area Arts alliance and the Henderson Audubon Board of REALTORS®. We also partnered with our local Chamber of Commerce, Tri-County Council of Labor, AFL-CIO, and several local business owners. Our Association was involved with all stages of the planning and completion of this project. This project was collaboration at its best.

Dedication plaque for The Perch, Henderson, Kentucky

© Henderson Audubon Board of REALTORS®

We transformed a vacant, “lava rock island”, as we called it, into a beautiful gathering place for the entire community. The pocket park, “The Perch”, was officially opened in November of 2018, with a beautiful ribbon cutting ceremony with over 200 people in attendance.  It has since been the ideal place for pop up concerts and our local first Friday lunch events.

Band Playing and newstands at The Perch, Henderson, Kentucky

© Henderson Audubon Board of REALTORS®

The Perch has received several honors since its completion.  We have received an award from the Kentucky Recreation and Parks Society and the Kentucky Chapter of the American Public Works Association. And our collaborative efforts were recently featured in forum for the Kentucky League of Cities.

The $5,000 placemaking grant that we received from the National Association of REALTORS® was a game changer for us. This grant changed our standing in the community. It got us a “seat at the table”. It made our community realize that REALTORS® are about so much more than selling house. They learned that we are passionate about our communities and the people that work, live and play in them.

Ribbon cutting ceremony and snowfall at The Perch, Henderson, Kentucky

© Henderson Audubon Board of REALTORS®

It just over a year since the completion of the Perch, we have been asked to serve on the Mayor’s visioning committee, to participate on several projects and to be part of the Downtown Master Plan.  And just recently we were invited to take part in a regional visioning process consisting of 8 regional communities. It is now common for our community stakeholders to reach out to us on a weekly basis for input on community matters.  
The collaboration that this project spurred is unbelievable and hard to describe.  It was placemaking at its core. We are so proud to have been a part of this project and because of it we will be a part of many more community collaborations.


Community Outreach Programs

Housing Opportunity Grant
Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing

Smart Growth Grant
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations to way to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Planned diversity initiatives makes good business sense. REALTOR® Associations with well-planned diversity programs create a stronger sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreign-born and minority residents who are moving up the socioeconomic ladder and are buying homes.

NAR Placemaking Resources

Placemaking Guide: A Guide to Transform a Public Space into a Community Place
REALTORS® and state and local association staff can learn the details of Placemaking, the kinds of projects placemaking entails, how to organize them, and where to go for assistance and resources.

Placemaking Webinar Series
Our Placemaking Webinar Series will provide more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® were involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Placemaking Grant
The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new public spaces, like pocket parks, trails & gardens, in a community. The grant focuses on “lighter, cheaper, quicker” placemaking projects, which can be built under a year and cost less  than $200,000.

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Smart Growth

The healthier a community, the better the environment for REALTORS®. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task.