Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

Placemaking: Big Impacts, Small Towns

Placemaking is more than beautiful murals — it is an approach that actively stimulates and sustains downtown economic development.

In a recent article in the Economic Development Journal, Main Street America/MSA, discusses how to harness the power of placemaking in your downtown including exploring case studies of current placemaking efforts across the country and showcasing the latest in MSA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem work.

Main Street America/MSA defines Placemaking as a collaborative, community-led, comprehensive approach to the planning, design, and management of places, e.g. public spaces, commercial districts, streets, etc.  They promote placemaking practice as a strategy to bolster traditional economic development methods.  

Main Street America/MSA  has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for 40 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,600 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, that share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development.

The Main Street Approach™ to community and economic development is centered around Transformation Strategies, which articulate focused, deliberate paths to strengthening downtowns or commercial districts’ economies. Transformation Strategies are implemented through comprehensive work in four broad areas, known as the Four Points:

One of NAR’s 2020 Strategic Priorities, a collaborative effort with a broad coalition of organizations, including multicultural real estate groups, lenders, and builders to amplify NAR’s advocacy voice and broaden housing opportunities for underserved communities, is to Drive Community Development.

Download the 2020 NAR Strategic Priorities

As we begin 2020, I encourage you to read the article to see how the REALTOR® community can help build partnerships, work with civic leaders and community organizations, especially Main Street organizations, and take advantage of NAR’s Community Outreach grants and other resources to impact economic growth in their communities.


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.