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Commercial Revitalization Through Placemaking

May 30, 2014

Placemaking, simply defined, is a way to transform a space where no one goes or avoids - i.e. a vacant lot - to a vibrant place where the community gathers and returns again and again, a farmer’s market, for example. NAR launched a Placemaking Initiative in 2013, introducing a Placemaking Guide, funding through a Placemaking Micro-grant and a series of educational webinars.

Placemaking is a great activity for commercial members to participate in as implementation of these activities and events can lead to an increase in property values and to the leasing/sales of vacant buildings around the transformed place. It can also have other positive impacts on commercial real estate development.

The easiest example of a Placemaking project to implement is something called “Lighter Quicker Cheaper”, which focuses on small, incremental, low cost steps to quickly turn a community’s vision into reality and build momentum for further improvements. Examples include community gardens, playgrounds and public art or murals.

If you have a downtown or commercial corridor in need of revitalization, other types of Placemaking might be of value: a Better Block event or a Main Street® project. A Better Block event creates temporary, sustainable improvements to a single city block which can build momentum for long-term financial, social and environmental advancements.

Main Street® is a unique economic development tool that enables communities to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts by leveraging local assets.

How can you get involved in your community? Start by listening to the recorded webinars at bit.ly/smartgrowthwebinars. Next steps? Talk to your leadership and staff at your local association about ideas you can champion. Make a difference in your community!