Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

What Does Placemaking Look Like?

As you may have realized, Placemaking is not an easy term to define.  To make matters worse, there is no standard definition and everyone seems to defines it differently, including us -  the National Association of REALTORS® Community Outreach staff.

To help explain what we think Placemaking is, and the type of projects we would like our REALTOR® Associations to create in their communities using NAR’s  Placemaking Micro-grant, I thought a picture is worth a thousand words.    So, without further ado, here is what we think placemaking is all about.

A once overgrown, unsafe vacant lot in Roseland (IL) is transformed into a playground.   Placemaking Chicago.

Note:  the folks behind this project, Demoiselle 2 Femme, will be talking about this project on the Vacant Lots Webinar on June 3.

Another vacant lot in Chicago transformed into a fun, play place for everyone.  Placemaking Chicago.

Avers Community Garden in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood.  Note the stage for events.   There is also seating in the garden making it a gathering place for non-gardeners too.  Placemaking Chicago.

Plazas are popular in urban area.  Lincoln Square in Northwest Chicago.  Seating, water feature and more.  Placemaking Chicago.

A plaza conversion transforming a street into an open space.  This one is Triangle Plaza in Los Angeles and it was L.A.’s first pedestrian plaza

Alleys are great spaces to transform into vibrant community places. East Cahuenga Alley, or EaCa Alley, brings an open space for residents and tourists in L.A.

Take advantage of your water assets.  River walk was designed to bring people close to the Clinton River in Downtown Utica, MI. Photo by City of Utica.

Parklets are great Placemaking projects that can be implemented in just about any community.  Here’s one in Andersonville, IL.


 For rural areas, trails are the places to be.    One is the Withlacoochee Bike Trail, FL, a 46 mile trail created on an abandoned railroad track.

So do you think you can create one of these Placemaking projects in your community?


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.