Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

The Before & After, Part 8

The National Association of REALTORS® encourages our state and local REALTOR® Associations to partner with others to make their communities better places to live.   Our Placemaking Grant is available to our REALTOR® Associations to help fund local Placemaking projects.  Since the launch of the grant in 2014, we have approved over $870,00 in funding for over 300 community placemaking projects.   If you have an unused, underused, unwelcoming site in your community, maybe it’s time to transform it into a welcoming destination for the community to gather.

As part of the grant requirements, we ask for a before photo of the site and an after photo of the completed project to show how the site was transformed.  Here are some of those completed projects.   Also see the blog posts on other projects:

Rockford Area REALTORS® (IL)

The Rockford Area REALTORS® Young Professional Network (YPN), volunteered to revitalize a park with benches, sign, landscaping, and path.  They also raised $20,000 for the project.

Their 2016 community beautification project included a new park sign to welcome visitors to the area, new cement pads around the area, and new trees and landscaping. Rockford Area REALTORS® says the enhancements are the perfect way to make the area more inviting for the thousands that visit each year. The YPN members take pride in maintaining the park as it is a reflection of their commitment to the bettering of the community and the REALTOR® brand.

Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS®(MI)

The Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS (SWMAR) took an area that probably was unknown and unused by local residents because of the undeveloped condition of it and added benches and picnic tables which transformed the area into a welcoming area to gather to take in the natural surroundings of the creek and utilize existing nature trails within the area also.

Southwest Indiana Association of REALTORS®(IN)

Southwest Indiana Association of REALTORS® worked with other local organizations to build a pocket park, sometimes referred to as parklets, on Evansville’s Main Street. This space was an unused sidewalk among small local shops.  The new downtown gathering spot now has two tables, several benches, and beautiful wooden planters. While building and installation were left to the professionals, members took part in preparing the area by sanding and repainting existing railings to match nearby buildings and filling the finished planters with various ornamental plants. The previous patch of concrete is a new favorite spot for downtown workers, residents and visitors. It’s often used as a spot to eat lunch and to just sit and chat.

Stark County Association of REALTORS® (OH)

The Stark County Association of Realtors® (SCAR) saw the opportunity to help the community of Carrollton, Ohio revitalize a blank canvas piece of park property into an area where the community could gather and be proud of the park system in their town.  The result of the hard work by the Realtors® is a place of sanctuary – where members of the community can sit and read, reflect and even get married!  It is a destination “meet and greet” spot the whole community can enjoy.  It is a small, yet positive reminder that Realtors® in our area consider community a priority.

Luzerne County Association of REALTORS®(PA)

The Luzerne County Association of REALTORS® (LCAR) was aiming to increase their presence in the community while utilizing grant opportunities offered through NAR.  They reached out to several organizations in the local area to gage community projects that were available for them to become a partner. The project selected was a dog rest area along the Greater Hazleton Rails-to-Trails path in the Hazleton area located in the southern part of Luzerne County. The REALTORS®, along with the Greater Hazleton Civic Partnership and other community groups, planned and built a covered shelter over a picnic table and benches and installed a dog water fountain supplied by a rain barrel system. There was no water supply to the area along the trail making the rain barrel system a crucial part to the completion of this project. It was an innovation way to get water to the pets utilizing the trail while making the rest area a real gathering place for all

Greater Greenville Association of REALTORS®(SC)

The Greater Greenville REALTOR® Association (GGAR) was making community engagement and placemaking a priority while at the same time the City of Greenville was looking for help to give new life to one of the City’s underutilized spaces.  The result was the transformation of a dead-end street into a place where residents could gather; business could use for outdoor events; and the neighborhood could have a focal point and centerpiece to build around. The plaza is now a space to host a variety of free community events, like V-Live concerts and monthly First Fridays, that bring hundreds of people to the Village’s epicenter. In the end, the finished project exceeded all expectations.

See Using Placemaking to Jump Start Downtown Revitalization.


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.