Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

The Before and After – Part 15

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:

Central Oregon Association of REALTORS® (OR)

The Central Oregon Association of REALTORS® (COAR) partnered with the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA) to help build the Madras East Hills Trails system in Madras, Oregon. The project is a multi-user trail network accessible to walkers, runners, horse riders, mountain bikers and e-bike riders, with designated trail options for each user to avoid conflicts and congestion. The funds were used for trail materials, features and amenities. REALTORS® got their hands dirty during a trail work day where they helped build sections of the trail.

Before and after images: Madras East Hill Trail, MI

Photos courtesy of Central Oregon Association of REALTORS®

Rockford Area REALTORS® (IL)

The Association was contacted by the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (RACVB) about partnering with them to create a mural and pop-up space at the Jefferson Street Pedestrian Underpass. The underpass is a commonly used path by pedestrians and cyclists. It is the only transportation route that is exclusively separated from any vehicular traffic that connects both sides of the Rock River. The underpass is a critically dynamic component that increases pedestrians' safety, and the revitalized area now provides users a vibrant community gathering space while appreciating the value of art.  

Before and after images: Jefferson Street Pedestrian Underpass, Rockford (IL)

Photos courtesy of NorthWest Illinois Association of REALTORS®

Oklahoma City Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® (OK)

Embracing the NAR objective to help promote community placemaking projects and involvement, OKCMAR leaders reached out to the Oklahoma City Capitol Hill Community. After a discussion about a project, our involvement began almost immediately with members participating in work groups helping to discuss and formulate ideas for a pop-up plaza that would help determine the type of public space should be built. Once the planning was complete, the real work began. A call went out to REALTORS to volunteer to help build the pop-up plaza and support activities the weekend of the unveiling. 13 REALTORS® helped support the projects from the planning discussions to working a booth at the pop-up plaza site during the Open Streets in Capitol Hill event.  

Before and after images: pop-up plaza in Oklahoma City

Photos courtesy of Oklahoma City Metropolitan Association of REALTORS®

Battle Creek Area Association of REALTORS® (MI)

The Battle Creek Area Association of REALTORS helped to create the Home Run Dog Park in Battle Creek, MI. The new public space is designed to bring dogs and their human companions together in a safe, fun environment. Approx. 1.5 acres are dedicated to man's best friend with agility loops, tunnels, jump poles, ramps and more. Additional amenities were installed including, drinking fountains for humans and canines, benches and signage. REALTORS helped to spearhead the project, promote it and volunteered to help make the project come to fruition. It was made possible through funding from the placemaking program, community contributions and a matching grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Before and after images: Home Run Dog Park, Battle Creek, MI

Photos courtesy of Battle Creek Area Association of REALTORS®

Selkirk Association of REALTORS® (ID)

Selkirk Association of REALTORS® partnered with Kaniksu Land Trust to build an ADA-compliant trail and gathering place at Pine Street Woods which was 160 acres of undeveloped land turned community forest. Pine Street Woods, as the property is known, is a unique place where people of all ages and abilities will have the opportunity to be outside enjoying the benefits that time in nature can provide. The trail system will be accessible during winter months by snowshoeing, cross country skiing and such while snow is on the ground.  Selkirk Association of REALTORS® members volunteered time to help clear the site for the trail system and install benches in the seating areas.  Selkirk Association of REALTORS® also installed dog waste stations as Pine Street Woods is a dog-friendly trail system and many of those using the ADA compliant trail enjoy taking their dogs with them. This is an ongoing, developing project in which Selkirk Association of REALTORS® will continue to help with.  We plan to install arboretum plaques along the trail in 2021 to help identify trees and other plant life.  

Before and after images: Pine Woods Trail, Selkirk, ID

Photos courtesy of Selkirk 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.