Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

The Before and After – Part 14

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:

Coastal Carolinas Association of REALTORS® (SC)

The City of Georgetown, SC is heavily visited as a stopping point between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, and provides a much-needed rest stop for travelers to stretch their legs.  The Park had a walking path, playground, baseball fields and boat ramp, but no welcoming space for dog owners and their pooches. So, the Coastal Carolinas Association of REALTORS® (CCAR) used NAR’s Placemaking grant to create two areas for a dog park; one for smaller dogs and another fenced in area for larger dogs.  Once the fence was in place, a group of CCAR REALTORS® and affiliate volunteers, as well as volunteers from the local steel mill, gathered to help plant trees and bushes alongside the fence, to add welcoming curb appeal.

Shot of the dog park and the ribbon cutting ceremony at the East Bay Park in the City of Georgetown, SC

Coastal Carolinas Association of REALTORS® (SC)

See:  A Park is Now a Welcoming Spot for Pooches Too

Bay County REALTOR® Association (MI)

Our Association,  along with the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, helped to create a pocket park in Bay City on a small parcel owned by the city.   The park, just off the riverfront, was named "Realtor Park".  Several Realtor® volunteers worked with others to design, fundraise and help  landscape the space for neighbors and visitors to enjoy.  Sidewalks, benches, landscaping and a beautiful sculpture replicating the river that runs through the city were added, making this previously ignored space a lovely park and destination for riverfront events, including concerts and the fireworks festival.

Before and after images of the Realtor Park in Bay City, MI

Bay County REALTOR® Association

West Central Association of Realtors® (MN)

The West Central Association of Realtors® and Main Street Willmar worked with local artists and a business owner to transform several blacktop parking spaces into a destination for downtown business owners and visitors to rest and enjoy with friends and neighbors. The “pop up” park has unique seating and artwork that included solar wind and motion pieces along with a bubble blowing station for all ages to enjoy. The park is moveable so it can be taken down during the winter months and will “pop up” each spring and summer.  

Before and after images of parking spaces transformed into moveable popup parks with artwork and seating areas

West Central Association of Realtors®


Idaho REALTORS® participated in the 2019 National Parking Day in Boise, Idaho. We partnered with AARP, American Heart Association, City of Boise and Idaho Smart Growth to build a temporary parklet, which transforms one or more parking spaces into a people space, near City Hall. The purpose was to bring the neighborhood together and help remind everyone to slow down and use caution.  See additional details with some past results, photos and a video.

Before and after images of parking spaces transformed into temporary parklets in Boise, ID


Prescott Area Association of Realtors® (AZ)

The Prescott Area Association of REALTORS® (PAAR) recognized that requests by home buyers seeking off-leash dog parks is not only a national trend but an increasing regional factor in home sales.  Accordingly,  PAAR decided to transform an unused space in the Mountain Valley Park into a vibrant dog park for the community to gather and enjoy.  PAAR helped to renovate the off-leash area and add features and amenities including new dog agility courses, picnic tables and benches, and shade trees. PAAR also partnered with local business leaders, local Eagle Scouts, and FRIENDS of Prescott Valley Parks and Recreation on the project, securing local financial/in-kind support and sweat equity. PAAR REALTORS® worked with residents and volunteers to accomplish the renovations, including moving gravel, planting trees, and assembling the new agility courses. Prescott Valley Mayor Kell Palguta and the Prescott Valley City Council recognized these efforts at check presentation with PAAR. The new dog park has been a popular and well received addition to the Prescott Valley community.

Before and after images of a dog park in Prescott AZ

Prescott Area Association of Realtors®

Eastern Connecticut Association of REALTORS® (CT)

Montville, CT knows that residents are happy when their pets are happy.  The Eastern CT Association recently helped fund an off leash, dog friendly park.  The park is perfect for letting dogs off their leash to meet and socialize, and is especially helpful for dog owners who have houses with small backyards or who live in apartments. The agility equipment, which includes a fire hydrant hurdle, A-frame, and flexible weave poles, adds a whole new level of excitement to the town’s recreation choices for both owners and their pets.  

Before and after images of a dog park in Montville, CT

Eastern Connecticut 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.