Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

Brickyard Plaza Project Transforms a Parking Lot Into a Pocket Park

With support from an NAR Placemaking Grant, the Eastern Connecticut Association of REALTORS® reinvented a parking lot with art, seating, and events.

A reclining robot, a mischievous monkey, and happy hippo are among the colorful works of art that now welcome visitors to the new Brickyard Plaza in the town of Killingly in Connecticut.

The Brickyard Plaza is a conversion of 15 underutilized municipally owned parking spaces into a public gathering and event space. The space includes outdoor seating, a stage, and interactive public art.

The underutilized parking spaces sat behind our main street businesses and were already configured in a natural courtyard design. During the pandemic, the space was utilized for outdoor dining and food truck events. We realized that the aesthetics and user-friendly aspect of the space could become a permanent pocket park with some enhancement.

Working in partnership with the town of Killingly and the Killingly Economic Development Commission, the Eastern Connecticut Association of REALTORS® helped to reimagine the space. Now neighbors are getting to know one another through the community paint installation as well as programming, and increased foot traffic from the surrounding neighborhoods has given a boost to the small businesses located within the downtown. Economic, communal, and artistic vibrancy live here!

NAR's grant was used toward the purchase of paint, art murals, and picnic tables for the plaza. Members of ECAR volunteered on community paint day, when artists laid down the grids, and community members with filled in the "paint by number" interactive floor mural on the asphalt.

The plaza is accessible by transit, foot, wheelchair, bike, and vehicle. The space is 500 feet from the public transit bus stop and directly adjacent to the major roadway through the borough center. The space is within a walkable neighborhood that is home to 4,200 residents, and the plaza is also easily accessible by wheelchair.

The plaza is open to everyone at all hours of the day. The town installed free Wi-Fi in the vicinity to ensure broadband access to all members of our community.

All of the Placemaking Grants that we provide in and around Eastern Connecticut are worthwhile projects for the association. We see how effective the grants are when we attend meetings with town managers, the economic development director and other officials, commercial REALTORS®, and investors. We’re able to offer our grant program to help improve the town, and town stakeholders appreciate the opportunity. We have helped other towns with the grants, which makes the REALTOR® association stand out as a community supporter. We have had new affiliates and REALTOR® members join because of our Placemaking Grants.


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.