Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

The Before and After – Part 4

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 Micro-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 $530,000 in funding for over 250 community placemaking projects.   If you have an unused, underused, unwelcoming space in your community, maybe it’s time to transform it into a more welcoming place for the community to gather.

As part of the grant requirements, we ask for a before photo of the current space and a photo of the same space after the project has been completed to show how a space was transformed into a vibrant place for a community to gather.

Here are some of those completed projects.   Also see the first round, the second round and the third round of completed projects.

Greater Boston Real Estate Board (MA).  Creation of a new pocket park on a vacant parcel.  A local REALTOR®, Paul Yorkis, brought this project to the Board for review and then pitched in to transform the overgrown lot in his hometown of Medway into a great place for the community to gather.  The grant funded benches, pavers for a walk way, and landscaping (plants, flowers and mulch) and is now a pleasant respite for the community.


Greater Northwest Indiana Association of REALTORS®.  Creation of a new pedestrian plaza on a vacant lot.  The Town of Highland Community Foundation, with the help of REALTORS® from the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of REALTORS®, turned an underutilized corner property into a beautiful, community pedestrian plaza.  The plaza, complete with a public memorial art sculpture, engraved brick plaza and bench seating, serves as a convenient gathering place. The grant funded benches for the plaza.


Jefferson Lewis Board of REALTORS® (NY).   Memorial for a new Town Square development.  Thompson Park has been greatly enhanced with the addition of the monument square. The monument area is peaceful and serene. Reflecting on one of the four reliefs is a nice way to start or end one’s day. Read a local newspaper article.


Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS® (MA).  Development of a new dog park which was part of the Town of Yarmouth’s Master Plan.  Dog parks are becoming an amenity more and more homebuyers are asking for when they look to purchase a home. The Association and its Young Professionals Network Committee used the grant for a community message board.  The park has been in full swing since August of last year and brings together dogs and their owners in safe location.  See the whole story in the Spaces to Places blog.


Southshore REALTORS® Association (WI).   Creation of the Kenosha Dream Playground Project, an accessible playground which also accommodates children with disabilities.   The Association used the placemaking grant, along with its own funding, to purchase three pieces of playground equipment: an Animal Finger Maze Activity Panel, a Braille Activity Panel, and a Periwinkle Seesaw.   The Dream Playground is a new landmark for the Kenosha area, located at Petzke Park, 31st Street and 14th Avenue in the City of Kenosha.


Paducah Board of REALTORS® (KY).  Creation of a pocket park in a vacant lot at the rear of an alley.   The new park helped to transform a vacant, concrete lot into a showcase for art created by local artists. The new park includes seating areas, landscaping, artistic panels, banners, tiles, and a sculpture.   It provides a great place to sit and relax, and take in downtown, for both residents and visitors.  Read more in the Spaces to Places blog.


Fresno Association of REALTORS® (CA).   Creation of a youth garden in a vacant lot at the Discovery Center.     The Association was happy to be able to provide assistance to the Discovery Youth Garden in Central Fresno.  Their partnership created a garden that teaches parents and children about heathy eating choices, where food comes from, sustainable gardening and fully functioning ecosystems.  The once empty overgrown lot is now a treasure and neighborhood jewel in the community.


Ocean City Board of REALTORS® (NJ).  Creation of a pocket park to enhance the neighborhood.   After  the older bike racks were removed because only 12 bikes could be accommodated, the area was transformed into a gathering spot including new bike racks, trees,  landscaping, a bench and an irrigation system to green the area.  With the addition of a new skate park in this area, the pocket park provides a pleasant resting area for the skate boarders, cyclists, visitors and shoppers of the downtown business district.


Tri-County Alliance of REALTORS® (CT).   Treehouse for a new playground on a wooded area.  The Jeffrey P. Ossen Community Playground has now become a central meeting place for families and a source of joy for the community’s children with some recent additions including the treehouse.  Countless friendships have been forged and renewed since the grand opening.  The Treehouse is located on the playscape for the youngest children and is a favorite of the two to five year old set.




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.