Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

The Before and After – Part 13

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:

The North Central MA Association of REALTORS® (MA)

This has been one of the most fascinating and energizing projects our Association has worked on. The excitement of the builders, project manager, REALTORS®, musicians, artists and local businesses has been amazing. The alley was used for nothing but a pass through between Main Street and Boulder Drive in the city of Fitchburg. It was a dark, dirty and seldom used space that has been transformed into a colorful community gathering place with dramatic artwork and lighting and is now used on a regular basis with events going on all the time. NCMAR members cleaned the sidewalks, removed weeds, cleaned up used needles, liquor bottles and cigarette butts. They painted railings, boxes for the artwork to go in, tables, chairs and the very bright pink stripes on the walkway. Several members also helped the contractors with the building of the deck where musicians and dancers perform, speakers and instructors interact with the crowd with dance lessons, yoga classes, non-profit events, fundraisers and more. Fitchburg has a rich history of promoting the arts. Activate Mill Street has become a vibrant community of artisans and a beautiful park for residents and visitors to enjoy. This small area of downtown has made a huge impact on everyone that has visited.

Before and after photos of alley between Main Street and Boulder Drive in the city of Fitchburg, MA

The North Central MA Association of REALTORS®

Coeur d'Alene Association of REALTORS® (ID)

The President of the Coeur d’Alene Association of REALTORS® knew she wanted to do something on the behalf of the Association that would make an impact on a community and that would last into perpetuity. So, the Association decided to use NAR’s placemaking grant to build a storybook trail.  The project gave us the opportunity to be involved in the project from the beginning to the end from prepping the site to picking the first book that would be showcased at the grand opening.  This trail is great for any age group and is truly a shining star in the area where there was nothing like it.

Before and after photos of a storybook trail built by the Coeur d’Alene Association of REALTORS® using NAR's placemaking grants

The Coeur d’Alene Association of REALTORS®

See: Our Story Walk Trail: A Place to Explore for Years to Come

Akron Cleveland Association of REALTORS® (OH)

The Akron Cleveland Association of REALTORS® (ACAR) received a level one placemaking grant to partner with One South Euclid (a community non-profit) and the City of South Euclid on a pop-up park/road diet demonstration. The project transformed an underutilized municipal parking lot near several shopping/dining establishments into a fun gathering place for residents and visitors. With temporary activities including outdoor games, a pop-up DIY art studio, a variety of seating, food vendors, and even a stage for poetry readings, singing, and more, there was something for everyone and showcased the potential of the space. One of most talked about features was the road diet demonstration, which was painted onto the parking lot. The City used the road diet demo to showcase what a proposed change to one of the city’s busiest corridors would look like, and how it could potentially make the area safer for pedestrian traffic. Further solidifying the partnership between REALTORS® and the community, several ACAR members and staff volunteered to help at entry/exit points and answered questions about the project.

The Akron Cleveland Association of REALTORS® transformed an underutilized municipal parking lot into a fun gathering place

The Akron Cleveland Association of REALTORS®

North Central New Jersey Association of REALTORS®

NEXT STOP ART is a hands-on community arts event where families, friends, neighbors, and commuters who use Broad Street Station can enjoy stimulating art, music, and crafts from several local artists and craftsmen.  This was a demonstration project to see how to use a transit station as a place for the community to gather. NEXT STOP ART is a collaboration between several Urban Essex Coalition for Smart Growth (“UEC”) members including NJ Transit, the City of Newark, La Casa de Don Pedro, Pink Dragon Artist Syndicate, Newark Arts and their ArtStart Grant Program and the North Central Jersey Association of REALTORS®. NCJAR encourages its members to engage with the communities they serve in ways that give back and was excited to support a group of our members from Essex County who donated their time and effort to help make this event a success for the community.

Commuters who use the Broad Street Station in Newark can now enjoy stimulating art, music, and crafts from several local artists

North Central New Jersey Association of REALTORS®

Belvidere Board of REALTORS® (IL)

The Association partnered with the City of Belvidere, General Mills, and Boone County Community Foundation to construct a 24 x 40 pavilion at Highline Park. The park is open to the public, but the city partnered with the local Belvidere YMCA to offer more activities at the park for the children during the summer months and provide a lunch program. The pavilion now provides a shady spot on hot summer days for the kids to eat lunch and enjoy crafting and learning activities rain or shine.

A 24 x 40 pavilion at Highline Park built by the Association in partnership with the City of Belvidere, and the local community.

Belvidere Board of REALTORS®

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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
opportunities.

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.

Diversity
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.