Columbia Heights Plaza, Washington, DC

Placemaking is for You and Your Community

Columbia Heights Plaza, Washington DC

Columbia Heights Plaza, Washington DC. Photo courtesy of Joe Molinaro.

Do you know a spot in your neighborhood that could use a little love?  Maybe it’s an empty lot with overgrown weeds, or a beloved park or waterfront that has lost its luster and has seen better days.  Or perhaps it’s a deserted plaza, alley or other public space where no one goes, or worse, is afraid to go. If so, would you like to turn things around?  Then Placemaking is for you.

Placemaking is best defined as the transformation of an unused–or underused–public space into a vibrant place for the whole community to gather, relax and have fun.  Neglected spaces become welcoming, safe, enjoyable places that residents will return to again and again.  Placemaking creates places where we can sit and relax; take our dog for a walk; eat our lunch; take our kids to play; have community meetings; meet friends; read a book; and simply smell the flowers.  Placemaking can enhance a public space and make it come to life.

Placemaking enriches our social and personal lives. It can impact our sense of place, local identity and quality of life.  Placemaking creates the kind of places where people feel a strong stake in their communities and a commitment to making things better.   And, it can help to spur the revitalization of other areas in the neighborhood, making your neighborhood a great place to live, work and play.

The National Association of REALTORS® supports Placemaking and believes it has a positive impact on real estate.   We have created a Placemaking Initiative to encourage our state and local REALTOR® associations, and their members, to engage in Placemaking activities in their communities.

This blog will delve into Placemaking in more detail; describe the various types of Placemaking activities; and report on examples of Placemaking across the country and within the REALTOR® community.   We hope you visit us often and let us know when you engage in Placemaking in your community and the impact those activities had on your community.

So, take a look around your neighborhood to what plazas, parks, alleys, bus stops, sidewalks, streets and waterfronts can use some TLC and start to change things around.

Shelter for Community

Neighborhood residents in Portland, Oregon built a shelter for passersby to pause, rest, watch, think, make music, read, and write. Photo courtesy of Lynn Rossing.

“Placemaking projects don’t have to be hard or expensive to do. Even if it’s just sprucing up a bus stop, the smallest changes can make a big difference.”  Kay Watson, Chair, NAR’s Smart Growth Advisory Board.

  1. We were recently involved with a State of NJ study to plan for the future development and revitalization of an economic corridor in our town. The sad thing is to realize that even though the planners have a vision and may transmit that vision to the governing body, there is no guarantee that the vision can be translated into action by the property owners that may be necessary to effect the change. Fair market competition has served in the past to have other landowners derail plans that conflicted with their personal financial interest.

    How can our group sway unwilling stakeholders?