Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

The Before and After – Part 11

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 the creation of new public spaces and destinations in a community. Since the launch of the grant in 2014, we have approved over almost $1 million in funding in nearly 400 communities. If you have an unused, underused, unwelcoming site – an “eyesore” – in your community, maybe it’s time to transform it into a welcoming place 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:

Suburban West Association of REALTORS® (PA)

Before & After: Car parking lot turned into a colorful ground mural filled with tables, chairs and toys, and lined with plants.

© Suburban West Association of REALTORS®

The Suburban Realtors® Alliance and Suburban West Realtors® Association helped to create a pocket park in Lansdowne Borough, PA. The new community gathering space is called Lansdowne Landing. Fifteen parking spots were painted over with a colorful ground mural by a local artist, filled with tables, chairs and toys, and lined with plants. Since opening, the space has been used for farmers markets, live music performances, meditation classes, and other activities and events. To complement the funding, a group of Realtor® volunteers spent a day at the project site, where they sanded and sealed wooden furniture, and helped decorate and erect a series of tall metal poles that will support the string lights to illuminate the colorful space during evening hours.

Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® (MI)

Three adults and one girl decorating a fence; and a man wearing a blue realtor shirt painting a mural on the side of a building.

© Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS®

The Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® is driving its placemaking initiative with an Adopt-A-Park program. As part of the program, the Association adopts a neighborhood park annually to create a community destination and gathering place in the community. Members first start out by brainstorming creative ideas and then implement their ideas by investing both money and sweat equity into a project. The results are long-term, engaging public spaces which help enrich local youth. See what they did in 2017 & 2018.

Columbus REALTORS® (OH)

Before and after pictures of an empty lot turned into a park with a walking path, picnic tables, and trellises.

© Columbus REALTORS®

The REALTOR® Care Day (RCD) committee realized that REALTORS® could help lead the revitalization of the often-overlooked neighborhood of Milo-Grogan in downtown Columbus. RCD committee members started things off by selecting an underutilized parcel, owned by a civic association and located next to a brand-new public transit station for the garden. Columbus REALTORS® members donated their time and tools to lay paving stones, construct multiple grape arbors, and plant flowers and fruit trees. The garden was very much appreciated by neighborhood leaders like Charles Thompkins, Chair of the Milo-Grogan Area Commission who said, “thank you for making REALTOR® Care Day one of the biggest blessings in the Milo-Grogan community.” Read more about this project.

Kenai Peninsula Association of REALTORS® (AK)

Dog running in the snow in a park with a bench and a tree; REALTORS® & volunteers standing next to the 3 Friends Dog Park's sign

© Kenai Peninsula Association of REALTORS®

The Association partnered with local organizations to help build a large pavilion as part of a community dog park that had been created from a formerly distressed and unsafe vacant lot. A significant contribution of elbow grease came from many REALTOR® volunteers and several Affiliate members who joined with members of the local Rotary Club and hardworking Parks and Rec employees over the course of three days to construct the lofty wooden structure. “The response has been amazing. There’ve been lots of great posts on Facebook, and an article in the local paper, and we’ve even heard a local DJ talking the project up on the radio” said Kelly Martin the Association’s Chief Executive Officer. Read more about this project.

Greater Nashville REALTORS® (TN)

In East Nashville, a dangerous intersection was transformed with vision, elbow grease, community collaboration. The roughly 2,300-square foot traffic island, a once-dismal, triangular concrete slab bounded on all sides by busy thoroughfares, is now a cheerful and much safer pedestrian refuge. The new island is the only public space for more than a half mile in any direction, and the only pedestrian connector between the library, a public high school, residential buildings, and a church. The Association helped to purchase supplies and provided about twenty volunteers from its Housing Opportunity and Affordability Committee and Board of Directors, who each took two-hour shifts during the all-day installation event. The installation has been a great success, and pedestrians are clearly drawn to the newly colorful and engaging site. Read more about this project.


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.