Placemaking can be undertaken by anyone in a community, but it may be a matter of getting someone like a REALTOR® Association, or an eager REALTOR® member, to take the lead or initiative, get the idea in motion, make a plan, and find partners and resources.
REALTOR® Associations, and their members, can initiate a Placemaking activity to not only create a sense of place in a neighborhood to enhance and improve it but to also to help increase the value of homes in the community. Placemaking can help to strengthen partnerships between REALTOR® associations and communities, organizations, and government agencies. And engaging in placemaking activities can let the community know that REALTORS® association and their members care about making a community a better place to live, work and play.
Washington Park, OH. Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Parks.
Placemaking can be a catalyst to revitalize a neighborhood and make that neighborhood more desirable. It could be a way to re-create a community and to breathe new life into the local real estate market. Placemaking is an opportunity for REALTOR® associations and REALTORS® in your community to make a difference by transforming a place where no one goes into one that is a destination.
Think of the overlooked, unmanaged, underused and vacant spaces in your community. Beyond their discouraging appearance, many are associated with crime and depressed real estate values. How do these areas affect the value of homes around them? Are homes around these areas more difficult to sell?
For the Michigan Association of REALTORS®, the connection between real estate and Placemaking is clear. Placemaking strategies that include green spaces and cultural amenities can help drive demand in today’s marketplace.
REALTOR® Gil White, a Placemaking proponent in Michigan, believes that REALTORS® can help to improve the value and quality of the built environment that either has been built or will be newly developed, or adaptively re-used, by becoming involved in Placemaking in their community. “Our role as REALTORS® is much greater than simply helping folks buy and sell houses. We owe it to our clients to help them find or keep their homes in cities, towns and rural communities that have appealing and sustainable plazas, efficient and convenient transportation, walkable main streets, green spaces, thriving shops and cultural amenities. Those are the qualities of Placemaking that are driving demand in today’s real estate marketplace.”
It makes sense for REALTOR® Associations to get involved in Placemaking, because Placemaking begins at the community level, and, “after all, REALTORS® are the eyes and ears of communities,” says Kathie Feldpausch, senior vice president of the Michigan Association of REALTORS®. She believes “real estate is local” and that “REALTORS® are in the neighborhood all the time and are aware of or directly involved with the groups doing these projects. They sell place.”
Beth Foley, 2013 Michigan Association of REALTORS® President, goes on to say that “REALTORS® spend a great deal of time selling ‘place.’ There is no other private sector group better situated to help inform and advance the discussion on Placemaking than the REALTOR® community. There is a positive correlation between Placemaking elements and local housing choices. Obviously places in higher demand can command higher prices.”
And, the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) believes that real estate professionals can be natural placemakers because they are passionate about their communities and have the communication skills and initiative that can catalyze Placemaking. Ethan Kent, Vice President of PPS, says “REALTORS® are often among a community’s most engaged and concerned citizens. They can quickly see how a Placemaking approach can generate local commitment and investment, short-term, low-cost improvements and long-term sustainability and resilience.”
Many Placemaking activities are not that difficult to plan and organize, but it a takes a champion, someone who recognizes the benefits of Placemaking and brings the right folks to the table. Someone has to get the ball rolling. That someone can be you.