Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

The Before and After – Part 12

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 $1.3 million in funding in nearly 500 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:

Cobb Association of REALTORS® (GA)

The Cobb Association of REALTORS® funded the purchase and installation of a swing bench at Marietta’s new Kirby Park. “We are delighted to be able to contribute to the city’s efforts to enhance the quality of life in Marietta,” said Judi Wilcher, President of the Cobb Association of REALTORS®. “In particular, we applaud the city’s forward-thinking approach in preserving this land for use as a park.” The investment is part of the Association’s mission to enhance the prosperity of the community in which their Members live and work. “The City of Marietta is most appreciative of the Cobb Association of REALTORS®’ partnership on this project,” said Rich Buss, Director of Marietta’s Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department. “Leveraging their NAR Placemaking Grant with our voter-approved Parks Bond monies allowed for additional amenities in the park that will certainly bring neighbors together.”

Before & After: additional ammenities added to Kirby Park, Marietta, GA

© Cobb Association of REALTORS®

North Central MA Association of REALTORS® (MA)

As part of a dog park project, the North Central MA Association of REALTORS (NCMAR) purchased beautiful mature shade trees to be planted along the fencing of the dog park to offer shade to the dogs and their owners. REALTORS and Business Partner volunteers dug holes in the rocky soil, added good loam, peat moss and fertilizer to the soil before planting the very large trees. The community now has not only a dog park but a place where friends and neighbors can come together to enjoy and have fun with their dogs.

The North Central MA Association of REALTORS (NCMAR) purchased beautiful mature shade trees to be planted along the dog park

North Central MA Association of REALTORS®

Henderson Audubon Board of Realtors®

The Association, along with its partners, transformed a vacant, “lava rock island”, as we called it, into a beautiful gathering place for the entire community. The pocket park, “The Perch”, was officially opened in November of 2018, with a beautiful ribbon cutting ceremony with over 200 people in attendance.  It has since been the ideal place for pop up concerts and our local first Friday lunch events.  We have received an award from the Kentucky Recreation and Parks Society and the Kentucky Chapter of the American Public Works Association. And our collaborative efforts were recently featured in forum for the Kentucky League of Cities.  See A Collaborate Effort for a New Community Gathering Spot & Much More.

Before & After: vacant island turned into a beautiful gathering place for the entire community in Henderson, KY

© Henderson Audubon Board of REALTORS®

New Jersey REALTORS®

What was once a vacant lot on Centre Street in Trenton, New Jersey is now an educational community garden for the Boys and Girls Club, which the lot with the goal of transforming the parcel into an educational garden so children could learn and thrive in an outdoor environment.. The NJ Realtors® Housing Opportunity Foundation had worked with the Boys and Girls Club on previous initiatives and took special interest when they learned about the Garden Project. The foundation then donated $5,000 towards the cause plus pursued a $5,000 Placemaking Grant through NAR for a small library to add to the garden project plans. Additionally, NJ Realtors® commemorated their first anniversary in their Trenton Headquarters by donating $5,000 to the project. The outdoor space now consists of educational areas including a library and growing area, a pavilion with bleachers, a storage shed for gardening tools, gardening beds to plant fruits and vegetables, and a play area with space for soccer.  See REALTORS® Plant Roots with the Boys and Girls Club of Trenton.

Vacant lot on Centre Street in Trenton, New Jersey is now an educational community garden for the Boys and Girls Club

New Jersey REALTORS®

Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® (MI)

The Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® developed an Adopt-A-Park project where each year the Association adopts a neighborhood park to create a community destination and gathering place in the community.  Last year, REALTORS® selected the South Side Community Coalition for a park project because of the Coalition’s involvement in the surrounding community.  The selected site for the park already had a basketball hoop, balls, swing set, teeter-totters, and a pedaling merry go-round.  But it needed more to enhance the space and make it more welcoming.  The Association bought and custom painted two picnic-game tables, a Little Free Library, interactive fence art, reading nook, PVC pipe xylophone, yard Yahtzee, disc golf, permanent hopscotch, Twister, soccer balls and cones, and deck boxes to store all the new equipment long term.  This is the fourth project in the Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® Adopt-A-Park program. Each year, the Association chooses a local park and helps activate the space. See REALTORS® Launch Creation of Hope on the South Side.

Each year the The Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® adopts a neighborhood park to create a community destination.

The Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS®

Space Coast Association of REALTORS® (FL)

Pieloch Dog Park was first envisioned by Melbourne Councilman Paul Alfrey who contacted the Space Coast Association of REALTORS® about the project. The Association felt this was a perfect opportunity for an NAR’s Placemaking Grant as it would transform a bare piece of land into a community gathering spot. More than 100 volunteers from the community assembled to help install fencing, paint, plant trees, lay sod and rock, and build the agility course in two days.   The dog park offers custom fire hydrant water features and an agility course. A pavilion was assembled in each area, as well as dog wash areas and misting stations to cool furry friends down.   Pieloch Dog Park welcomes community members and their four-legged friends to enjoy the great outdoors, making it just the sort of thing the Placemaking grant is intended to help create. See REALTORS® Make Melbourne's Dogs' Dreams Come True.

The Space Coast Association of REALTORS® transformed a bare piece of land and built the Pieloch Dog Park in Melbourne, FL

The Space Coast Association of 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.