Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

My Favorite Placemaking Projects

The National Association of REALTORS® Placemaking Grant has been around since 2014 and NAR has provided over $1.4 million in funding to help build pocket parks, community gardens, trails, parklets, dog parks, and alley activations.

The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new, outdoor public spaces and destinations in a community. While the grant is only available to state and local REALTOR® Associations, many Associations partner with others in their community, such as cities, Main Street organizations, parks & recreation agencies, arts and cultural organizations, community coalitions, etc.

Hopefully, this is the year you are thinking about using our Placemaking Grant to transform an underutilized or unused site into a vibrant, welcoming place for the community to gather. And to give you some ideas, here are some of my favorite placemaking projects that REALTOR® Associations helped to build in their communities.

Storybook Trail:  Coeur d’Alene REALTORS® Bring a “Storybook Trail” to Growing Community

The Coeur d’Alene REALTOR® association wanted to use one of the REALTOR® Party’s Smart Growth Action Grants to help a local community where its members live and work. Working together with the City of Rathdrum, Idaho, they planned and built a ‘Storybook Trail’ at the base of Rathdrum Mountain.

Coeur d’Alene Association of REALTORS® staff at the Storybook Trail at the base of Rathdrum Mountain, Idaho

Photo courtesy of the Coeur d’Alene Association of REALTORS®

Trailhead Pocket Park: REALTORS® Help Welcome Visitors to Sutton Bay

Traverse Area Association of Realtor created a unique community welcoming pocket park and trailhead rest spot. REALTORS® work to improve health and quality of life in communities across the country.

Benches and an English phone booth featured in the Trailhead Pocket Park, Grand Traverse Bay, MI

Photo courtesy of the Traverse Area Association of REALTORS®

Neighborhood Pocket Park: St. Louis City Community Park: A celebration of a Special Neighborhood and the REALTOR® Spirit

The St. Louis REALTORS®  transformed a vacant piece of land within the St. Louis Greater Ville neighborhood into a community park. The St. Louis Greater Ville neighborhood is a historic community of homes and businesses located in North St. Louis, Missouri. The park was a perfect fit for the vacant lot to create a welcoming destination for the whole community.

St. Louis REALTORS® staff working on a vacant lot to buid a community park in the St. Louis Greater Ville neighborhood.

Photos courtesy of the St. Louis REALTORS®

Island Park: REALTORS® Bring an Island its First Park

A group of REALTORS® and association staff traveled to an island to help build the island’s only park on a vacant, abandoned lot currently owned by the local fire department. The pocket park features picnic tables, benches, a bicycle rack, trash receptacles, and landscaping that can stand up to sometimes rough island conditions.

Picnic tables at the Pocket Park on Smith Island, MD

Photos courtesy of the Coastal Association of REALTORS®

Downtown Pocket Park:  Pocket Park – Big Mission!

The Paducah Board of REALTORS®  has worked with the Paducah Mainstreet program in Paducah on several projects and was thrilled to be involved in the new Pocket Park on our historic Market Street. We are proud that the Placemaking Micro-grant that we received from NAR helped to transform this vacant concrete lot into a showcase for  art created by our local artists, many of which have located here from all over the country to live in our downtown arts district. This park will provide a great place to sit and relax, and take in our wonderful downtown, for both residents and visitors.

Pocket Park on the historic Market Street in Paducah, KY

Photo courtesy of the Paducah Board of REALTORS®

Dog Park: Hopkinsville, KY Goes to the Dogs with the Help of a Placemaking Grant

On June 2, 2016, the Hopkinsville Dog Park was opened by an official ribbon cutting ceremony, with plenty of dogs in attendance, ready to romp. It was all the idea of the 56-member Hopkinsville Christian & Todd County Association of REALTORS® and a Placemaking Micro-Grant from the REALTOR® Party helped make it a reality.

Ribbon cutting ceremony at the Hopkinsville Dog Park in Hopkinsville, KY

Hopkinsville Christian & Todd County Association of REALTORS®

Community Garden: Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS®

Nearly 600 REALTORS® from the Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS® (WRAR) participated in its second annual REALTOR® Action Day—aka “RAD.” From playing music at senior centers to planting plants and clean-up and landscaping projects, RAD was full of WRAR members working to improve their community. Nearly 100 participants built a community garden with park benches and a tool shed using a $3,000 Placemaking Micro-grant.

Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS® staff working on a community garden in Wilmington, NC

Photo courtesy of the Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS®

Pedestrian Street Plaza: Greater Nashville REALTORS® Put Placemaking Grant to Work for Pedestrian Plaza

With vision, elbow grease, and a Placemaking Grant, Greater Nashville REALTORS® partnered with a local civic design organization to transform a dismal traffic triangle into a cheerful, safer pedestrian refuge.

Before and after images of the Pedestrian Street Plaza in Nashville, TN

Photos courtesy of the Greater Nashville REALTORS®


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.