Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

A pocket park may be just the right placemaking project to add some fun and vibrancy to your downtown.  This newly created pocket park was funded in part with an NAR Placemaking Micro-grant to the Paducah Board of REALTORS®.

"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 wondeful downtown, for both residents and visitors."

Linda Townzen, Association Executive
Paducah Board of Realtors

Repost by iList Western Kentucky i Love it!
by Amy Noles, June 20, 2016
What do you do with a small vacant lot on a busy downtown street? Why you create the latest Paducah destination – aptly named the Market Square ART Park. The city-owned micro park is located at 117 ½ South 2nd Street - adjacent to JP’s Bar & Grill. It was previously a vacant lot located between two downtown buildings.

The project was initiated by Mayor Gayle Kaler and the City of Paducah Planning Department invited the public to give their input on the park. “Spaces that are tucked away offer a place for reflection, reading, conversation and enjoyment of the surroundings," Mayor Kaler explained.  “This ART Park is a pocket park - which implies a secret garden place that can be used in many ways by our community and visitors. I believe people will be very happy with their newly reborn space on Market Square.”

Local Art by Design

“Using local artists in the park’s design was a priority for me,” said Mayor Kaler. “The park has been a collaboration of many minds and talents, along with community and business support." In addition to seating areas and landscaping, the park features metal art panels designed by local artist Char Downs and fiber art banners created by Freda Fairchild. There are glazed ceramic art tiles by John Hasegawa, and a sculpture, entitled Fluid Progress, by Michael Copeland and Lu Colby. Copeland and Colby are Paducah School of Art & Design sculpture students.

Light Shining Through

“A friend told me about this project and then recommended me to the design committee,” said Char Downs, owner of Pinecone Retreat, Gallery & Studio and a contributing artist to the park. “Quilts are queen here in Paducah! There are four steel 3' x 8' panels that allow the solid areas to patina beautifully over time. They are installed between brick wall supports to create a separation between the back alley and the ART Park."

“I took a traditional quilt square named ‘Friendship Star’ and created a design riff to be cut with water jet by a fabricator through the 3/4 inch steel - it opens up the panel spaces and allow light through from both directions. The repeated lines around the cut design, with light shining through makes all the panels glow - especially later in the afternoons towards sunset.”

Lu Colby, who graduated with an Associate’s degree in fine arts from PSAD this spring was thrilled to contribute to the park’s design. (She plans to go to Kendall School of Art and Design this fall to complete a BFA.) “Our piece was a collaboration between Michael Copeland and myself through PSAD,” she explained. “We worked closely together with Cody Arnall, PSAD Sculpture Instructor, on the design and construction of it. It was our first public piece and we loved the new challenge! I can't say enough about how great of an opportunity it was, especially since that's not something students get to do at that level of education.”

The ART Park is ready to be enjoyed by everyone. So, grab a lemonade at Kirchhoff’s and sit and relax surrounded by amazing art.


Durwin Ursery developed the park’s initial schematic designs with J. Patrick Kerr, Architects completing the final designs. Paducah Main Street received a Creative Placemaking grant from the Paducah Board of Realtors to assist with the cost of the art pieces. The El Arbol Garden Club sponsored one of the cast iron benches.


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.

Comment Policy

The opinions expressed in reader comments sections on this website are those of the reader and not NAR or REALTOR® Magazine.

Smart Growth

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