Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

Written by Erin Corry, Government Affairs Coordinator, West Volusia Association of REALTORS

Every year, the West Volusia Association of REALTORS’ Young Professionals Network (YPN) gives back to their community by supporting local organizations through volunteering. This year, YPN decided to get involved in a big way and participated in a joint project between the city and local organizations to rebuild and restore one of Deland’s iconic spaces, Freedom Playground.

Before & After Photos of the Playground.
Before & After Photos of the Playground.

Situated on a registered Historic Site, Freedom Playground was originally constructed in 1991 and even today it remains the only community built playground in Deland, FL.

As a group, Realtor® are uniquely positioned to understand the value that great places, such as parks and playgrounds, bring to both a community and its homeowners. The availability of green spaces and public recreation facilities, especially for families with children, can be a major influence on a buyer’s decision making process.

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Participating in the Freedom Playground rebuild gave YPN members the perfect opportunity to give back to their community and to increase the attractiveness of Deland for current and future homeowners.

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The West Volusia YPN was first approached to participate in the Freedom Playground rebuild by other WVAR members. This project truly was community-wide and many of our Affiliate members and Realtor® were active in the project in some way. It was their enthusiasm for the Freedom Playground that encouraged YPN to get involved in the rebuild.

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After some careful consideration, our YPN Chair Candace Cecil decided to apply for an NAR Placemaking Micro-grant to fund the construction of a covered seating area in the park, a perfect spot for parents to sit and enjoy the shade while their children play.

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On the day of their shift, YPN members not only worked to construct the covered seating area, but they also helped assemble the slides, monkey bars, and bridges that is a must have for every playground. YPN members even helped drill a new playground cover into place while carefully balanced on makeshift scaffolding.

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Thankfully, and despite the presence of power tools, the project was a huge success! In fact, this project was such a success that the West Volusia YPN is already working on putting together another Placemaking project, Colin’s Dream Park, so they can continue giving back to the community.

The Freedom Playground project was planned to be a total rebuilding of the park, to create an interactive, physically challenging but fun and accessible playground for all children. Since reopening, Freedom Playground has been wildly popular with children and families in Deland, FL and it is our hope that it remains a safe and beautiful gathering place for many years to come.

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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.