Community Development: Associations in Action - Fall 2015

City Spotlight: Las Vegas, Nevada

Members of the Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS® (GLVAR) and its Commercial Alliance Las Vegas (CALV) are working with a diverse group of community partners to reimagine and redevelop a once-thriving commercial center in Las Vegas.

CALV helped secure a Smart Growth grant through NAR’s REALTOR® Party funding programs, enabling organizers to create a weekend-long “Better Blocks Live” event scheduled for Sept. 19th-20th in a struggling shopping center at Sahara Avenue and Decatur Boulevard in the heart of Las Vegas. Through the Smart Growth Grant program, NAR supports a wide range of activities that support engagement in land-use or transportation-related issues with the primary goals of affecting public policies that support a more sustainable development paradigm. In addition, these projects aim to raise the profile of REALTORS® as community leaders.

The “Urban Villages” at Sahara & Decatur, once a thriving business center, has been a concern in the community for some time. While other areas of the city have been redeveloped, this area has not despite its central location, resulting in loss of economic opportunity and increased blight. Grant funding is also being used to help with research of development code to identify bulk standards that should be revised to maximize development capacity, limit usable space and bring activity closer to enhance walkability.

CALV and GLVAR are partnering on this event with the Hope Home Foundation, Urban Land Institute (ULI), Clark County, the City of Las Vegas, industry leaders and other stakeholders. With the help of this funding, the group has developed plans to bring the busy intersection alive with pop-up attractions and a street fair featuring art displays, a children’s play area, a dog park, live entertainment, a bike parade, a homebuyer fair and a farmer’s market. As part of the event, organizers will gather information and ideas from local residents and industry professionals during a live charrette intended to improve an area where any stores and businesses have closed in recent years. “We want to hear from the community what they really feel is important,” said Dr. Robert Fielden, co-chair of the ULI: Nevada Smart Growth Committee. “Change takes time and careful planning.”

ULI has been collecting data and suggesting strategies for redeveloping the area as a transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly environment, with employment centers within walking distance or short transit rides. The Hope Home Foundation is addressing housing needs for the area’s working-class families.“Our organization has been successful working with area employers to provide their employees with housing benefit programs,” explained Dawn Lane, a GLVAR member and CEO of the foundation. “We have difficulty finding decent quality housing for our workforce families. This was once a vibrant area of our community, and we want to bring those opportunities back. Many of the people we’re working with would love to move back into this area. The major property owners around the corner have been very supportive and are helping in any way they can.”

CALV President Bobbi Miracle, a local commercial real estate broker, added that “CALV was thrilled to join the project. Brokers have everything to gain by joining with other community leaders to ensure all these community attributes are in place. More than ever, buyers and tenants want the convenience and value of smart growth.”

Discover more about what happened at the event by visiting NAR’s The Source blog, www.blog.commercialsource.com – and find out what GLVAR’s next steps will be in helping change this block of their community.

City Spotlight: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

According to its Regional Economic Development Corporation, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is a world-recognized travel destination and a premier location for business growth that now attracts more than 16 million visitors, residents and businesses each year. Overlooking the inter-coastal waterway, a new hike/bike park in Myrtle Beach, needed some help and REALTORS® were there to answer the call. According to Nick Kremydas, CEO of South Carolina REALTORS®, “Working closely with NAR, volunteers and community supporters, the South Carolina REALTORS® were able to contribute $2,000 to improve the park to include a new community space that include benches and signage that will overlook the waterway, creating a beautiful gathering space when users want to take a break from the trail.”

City Spotlight: Palm Beaches, Florida

The REALTORS® Association of Palm Beaches Commercial Alliance (RCAPB) received a Placemaking Micro-grant to replace a vacant lot with a community garden. Completed in May 2015, the Gladiolus Education Garden of Delray Beach, Florida now serves to teach the community how to grow healthy foods in a beautiful new setting. Belinda Krause, RCAPB Executive Director, has shared the story and inspiring images of this transformation on NAR’s Spaces to Places blog, at http://spacestoplaces.blogs.realtor.org.

City Spotlight: Fortville, Indiana

The community of Fortville, Indiana turned an unattractive alleyway into a pedestrian-friendly public space with benches, planters and public art, partially funded by a NAR Placemaking Micro-grant requested by the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS® (MIBOR) earlier this year. According to Kathy Hall, MIBOR President, “The creation of this new walkway will help connect Main Street to or with the public parking lot. The community has already attracted investors to buy and renovate buildings and rent storefronts. Main Street has seen a flourishing of new businesses.”

Interested in applying for a Community Outreach grant? Contact your Association Executive or reach out to Holly Moskerintz at HMoskerintz@realtors.org for more information.

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