Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

The Before and After – Part 2

The National Association REALTORS® encourages our state and local REALTOR® Associations to partner with others to make their communities better places to live and work.   Our Placemaking Micro-grant is available to our REALTOR® Associations to help fund local placemaking projects.

Since the launch of the Placemaking Micro-grant in January 2014, we have approved over $200,000 in funding for over 100 community placemaking projects.   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 could be transformed into a gathering place for the community.

We are now starting to receive some of the “after” photos which we would like to share with you.   Note that some of these are still works in progress as spring was late in coming and the April showers have yet to bring the May flowers.

In addition, here is some feedback on our Placemaking Micro-grant from our REALTOR® associations who have received the grant.

I think NAR’s Placemaking Grant was one of the most fun grants we've ever gotten because it allowed us to be creative, artistic, and partner with the artists in our community which is something we don't normally do with other grants.”  Connie Legris, Executive Officer, Kankakee-Iroquois-Ford Association of REALTORS®

“It truly was a wonderful experience and if this first project is an example of what to expect from these grants, we will certainly be doing many more.” Colleen Pappas, Executive Vice President, WRAR

“This was a great project that brought together REALTORS®, builders, and contractors. The project made a huge difference for the Community Gardens and was greatly appreciated.  Thank you for believing in this project!” Jennifer Roche, Governmental Affairs Director, Knoxville Area Association of REALTORS®

“MOR’s donation to the playground boosted my sense of pride in the project even more. I’ve taken my family there already and my kids absolutely loved it.” Missoula Organization of REALTORS®, President Brint Wahlberg.

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.

These are our second round of projects.   See the first round.

Knoxville Area Association of REALTORS® (TN).  Community Garden Project.   In addition to NAR’s Placemaking Micro-grant, over $5,000 was  raised by the Knoxville Area Association of REALTORS® Community Involvement Committee.  The Association said they got media coverage and that it was a great project that brought together REALTORS®, builders, and contractors. The project made a huge difference for the Community Gardens project and was greatly appreciated.

High Country Association REALTORS® (NC).  Playground Project.  Development of a playground on a vacant lot as part of a Habitat for Humanity Community but playground is open to the whole community.  Local REALTOR® members volunteered to help build the playground.

SouthEast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS® (AZ), Community Urban Garden Project.   Creation of a community urban garden gathering place, to include seating and a pond, on vacant space owned by Paz De Christo.  The SouthEast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS’® 2015 Leadership Program Class spearheaded this project which helped to uplift a community in need.

Cedar Rapids Area Association of REALTORS® (IA).  Park Project.    Purchase and installation of exercise equipment in a park, which is the first park selected to be part of a city-wide park revitalization project.  The Health Beat outdoor exercise equipment was provided through a donation by the Iowa Association of REALTORS® and Croell Concrete. The Association did additional fundraising and brought in Croell Concrete so the project could be completed quickly.

Westmoreland REALTORS® Association (PA).  Parklet Project.  Creation of a parklet on an overgrown area part of the local post office.  The Latrobe Community Revitalization Program Facebook page reported that “Weather couldn't have been nicer in Latrobe today as we finished our creative place-making project at the Post Office thanks to a grant from the National Association of Realtors®.

Greater Scranton Board of REALTORS® (PA)] Pocket Park Project.   Purchase of a gazebo, where musicians will perform and residents can relax, to serve as the center piece for a new pocket park to be created on a vacant lot.  The park also includes a concrete path past the lilac trees; a few game tables and a toy train and a pocket library — an 18-inch-square box, with plexiglass doors, mounted on a cedar post, that houses donated books.

Realtors® Commercial Alliance of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast (FL).  Community Garden Project.  Creation of a walk-through pergola, with seating, as part of a new community garden.  Read more about this project in the Spaces to Places blog.

Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS® (IN).  Alley Activation project.   The Board worked with the town to close off an alleyway from vehicular traffic in order to transform the space into a pedestrian friendly walkway and destination in the heart of downtown. Read more about the project in the Spaces to Places blog post.


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.

Comment Policy

The opinions expressed in reader comments sections on this website are those of the reader and not NAR or REALTOR® Magazine.

Smart Growth

The healthier a community, the better the environment for REALTORS®. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task.