Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

REALTORS® in Action: Alley to Pedestrian Walkway Transformation

Written by
Kathy Hall, President, Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS® (MIBOR)

Fortville Action Inc., a volunteer run organization aimed at strengthening and promoting Fortville, Indiana, 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.

View of the soon to be transformed alleyway from Main Street.
View of the soon to be transformed alleyway from Main Street.

The community then approached the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS® (MIBOR) with their plan to beautify the space, which connects public parking and the Farmer’s Market space to Main Street.  The plan included the installation of benches, planters and public art.  The benches will provide a pleasant place for workers and residents to sit, eat lunch, and enjoy fresh air as well an esthetically pleasing place to walk to and from the public parking areas.  Large decorative planters will be used as barricades to prevent vehicular traffic from entering the alley and bring natural element to the otherwise dull space.  MIBOR received funding from NAR’s Placemaking Micro-grant to help to make this gathering space happen.

Planters will be added along the alleyway and at both entrances to bring nature elements to the concrete and brick corridor.
Planters will be added along the alleyway and at both entrances to bring nature elements to the concrete and brick corridor.

Fortville became an Indiana Main Street community in 2012 and is currently experiencing a renaissance.   Several buildings on Main Street are currently undergoing extensive renovations.  The creation of this new walkway and gathering place will help connect the Main Street from the public parking lot and will encourage business owners to locate in Fortville knowing there will be adequate, accessible parking and safe passage.   The community has already drawn investors to buy and renovate buildings and rent storefronts.  Main Street has seen a flourishing of new businesses.

As new businesses, festivals and increased activity continue to take place on Main Street, outdoor seating and gathering areas like this one will become an important part of the Main Street culture.  And, having quaint, inviting spaces plays an important part in drawing unique businesses to the town.

And the space is already being used.  The 5th Annual Fortville Winter Festival was held on December 6, 2014.  The festival was created to bring life back to the town’s struggling and dated Main Street.  One objective was to draw people to downtown to showcase the unique storefronts that are available for small businesses in addition to bringing people together to celebrate the season in the traditional center of town and recreate a nostalgic atmosphere. While not completely finished, the alleyway served as a centerpiece for the Christmas trees display during the Festival.

Christmas trees lined the pedestrian alley during the 2014 Winter Festival.

Christmas trees lined the pedestrian alley during the 2014 Winter Festival.

 Spring of 2015 will signal the completion of the project with the final installations of planters, benches and selections of public art.  Local REALTORS® have enjoyed being a part of this transformation and note how the energy of the once blighted space has already been elevated.

NAR’s Placemaking Micro-grant helped add to the aesthetics, property values and spirit of this quintessential Indiana Main Street.   You might want to see how the grant can help revitalize your Main Street.

MIBOR President Kathy Hall presents the grant check to members of the Fortville Action, Inc. in the alley.
MIBOR President Kathy Hall presents the grant check to members of the Fortville Action, Inc. in the alley.

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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.

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Placemaking

Placemaking is a way to make your community a better place to live and work by transforming public spaces into vibrant community places.