Smart Growth Action GrantA
Supports state and local REALTOR® association initiatives, including trainings, community input planning and studies, in a wide range of land-use and transportation- related activities with the primary goal of affecting public policies that support development that meets one or more of the ten Smart Growth Principles.
It’s not every day that a community can plan its own redevelopment from scratch. Following last fall’s devastating wildfire that destroyed Paradise, California, however, that’s exactly the silver lining that the town was facing. The neighboring Oroville Association of REALTORS® is taking the lead in steering the new development toward a Smart Growth way of thinking.
With help from a REALTOR® Party Level III Smart Growth Action Grant, the Land of the Sky Association of REALTORS® takes a leadership role in finding a winning balance of parkland and mixed-use development for an unsightly property in the heart of the City of Asheville, North Carolina.
February 2012 Since 2005, the Atlanta Commercial Board REALTORS® (ACBR) has been working to make quality growth a priority – not only for their 2,800 members, but for their entire metro area. In 2011, the ACBR had the opportunity to take their convictions to the next step — to help turn a smart growth plan into a viable commercial/residential development. The property in question was a rail station in Edgewood -- an older suburb of mostly single-familyhomes southeast of downtown. Through a series of collaborative sessions with community stakeholders, an NAR Smart Growth grant, funds of their own, and public/private partnerships they made it happen.
The Austin Board of REALTORS® took its experience in helping to re-write Austin’s outdated land-use development code to the next level by setting the stage for development of a near-downtown waterfront area. With a $15,000 Smart Growth Grant from NAR, the 9,500-member board sponsored a multi-day gathering of community stakeholders and national thought leaders to establish a master plan for the South Central Waterfront area, which is very near the state capitol. In addition to helping create a long-range plan to make the space both useful and beautiful, ABR’s relationship with key city departments has been strengthened immeasurably.
Fearing what would happen to the charm of this rural community outside of Austin, Texas, the Bastrop County Board of REALTORS® took the lead. With 68 elected local officials, business and community leaders and REALTORS® from the county and its three cities in attendance, this 169-member board to hosted a Smart Growth for the 21st Century class to discuss and strategize the community’s future.
To prevent an extreme proposition that would curtail development in Los Angeles, the REALTORS® of Beverly Hills/Greater Los Angeles used the power of the REALTOR® Party's Land Use Initiative and Issues Mobilization Grant programs. These resources and an unlikely partnership helped defeat the measure and secure housing opportunities across the city.
The 600-member Billings Association of REALTORS® (BAR) has a long-held belief that REALTORS® do much more than sell houses – they build communities. And, their actions prove it. Launched 10 years ago, BAR’s Quality of Life Program raises nearly $40,000 for local charities like Dress for Success, YMCA, and Boys and Girls Club. Their two annual fundraising events – a run and a casino night -- are coordinated through a web site they created using the Convio/REALTOR® Party Grassroots System. While nearly 270 REALTOR® associations around the country use the Convio system, most use it for advocacy and RPAC. BAR is proving that it works well for community outreach, too. Additionally, the association’s Quality of Life program was recently granted a $5,000 Smart Growth Grant from NAR to work with the nearby City of Laurel to update their growth management plan.
In the fastest growing region in the fastest growing state in the nation, the public school facilities could not keep up with the booming student population. An Issues Mobilization campaign helped get a $95 million bond measure approved for new schools, school expansions, and the purchase of future school sites.
Using a pilot Walkable Communities Grant from the REALTOR® Party, the REALTORS® of Boise, ID, jump-started a much-needed visioning process for an improved Orchard Street Corridor: a major downtown thoroughfare that was neither attractive, convenient, nor safe for pedestrians.
Bronx-Manhattan North Association of REALTORS® Uses Placemaking to Spur Pride and Positive Engagement
What started as two people talking about how to spend $2,200 to improve the atmosphere of a bleak urban space, resulted in a vibrant public arts project that is now valued at $50,000, attracted a visit from a Supreme Court Justice, and, most importantly, has spurred pride and positive engagement in its neighborhood.
The 82-member Carbon County Association of REALTORS®, based in the borough of Lehighton in the foothills of the Pennsylvania Poconos, knew their three-stoplight town needed help. After suffering the loss of its traditional industries – garment mills and the railroad - decades ago, the four-block business district was in a bad state of decline. After learning about the REALTOR® Party’s Smart Growth Grant Program, the association leaders applied for help, and they got it.
When faced with the expected population boom in Bend, OR, the Central Oregon Association of REALTORS® knew it was crucial to restore balance in the city’s anti-growth City Council. Using the REALTOR® Party’s Independent Expenditure Program, the 1700 member association backed candidates who supported smart growth, fiscal responsibility, and sound solutions to the challenges our growing city faces…and won.
Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS® Hosts Housing Summit and Commissions Study to Recommend Productive Changes to Zoning Codes
As multiple municipalities in its jurisdiction had recently completed their mandated five-year comprehensive plans, the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS® was determined to keep those efforts alive, rather than languishing on shelves. With a housing summit and a deep-dive study supported by Smart Growth and Issues Mobilization Grants, it’s helping the region move its plans from paper to policy.
A Smart Growth Action Grant brought the impartiality the Austin Board of REALTORS® needed when they joined a developer and government officials to brainstorm solutions to the proposed Austin Oaks development that threatened to bring traffic congestion and tall buildings to the quiet community.
The Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® recently donated it’s $10,000 Smart Growth Grant from NAR to support a 40-year growth planning process involving 16 counties in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. An array of area organizations and businesses are working with the local governments to develop a framework for managing future growth in the area’s economic, environmental, educational, residential and commercial sectors.
The Coeur d’Alene REALTOR® association wanted to use one of the REALTOR® Party’s Smart Growth Action Grants to help a local community where its members live and work. Working together with the City of Rathdrum, Idaho, they planned and built a ‘Storybook Trail’ at the base of Rathdrum Mountain.
Data from Traverse REALTORS® Proves Invaluable to Downtown Development Planning for Affordable Housing
In Traverse City, Michigan’s desirable downtown neighborhoods, affordable housing is scarce, and the land base is already largely built. With a Smart Growth Action Grant, the Traverse Area Association of REALTORS® engaged a consulting firm to create a 3D economic model demonstrating the potential tax revenue from various development configurations to assist developers and the City Commission in making good decisions for the community.
Delaware, the second-smallest – but sixth most-densely populated – state in the nation, has a vested interest in the concept of smart growth. Leaders of the 3,000-member Delaware Association of REALTORS®, in conjunction with state government leaders began brainstorming about creating a master ‘planning book’ for the state. Then they decided to take a step back and look at an even bigger picture. They organized the Complete Communities: Delaware Summit 2012, held Nov. 13 in Dover. The Delaware Association co-sponsored the event with the state’s Department of Transportation and the Office of State Planning Coordination, and the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration. A Smart Growth Grant from NAR helped to pay for two of the featured speakers About 130 people attended the all-day conference, representing all three counties and 57 towns in Delaware.
The East Central South Dakota REALTORS® (ECSDR) can tell you, the immense growth that Brookings, SD, is enjoying is tempered by a housing crisis and heightened by issues ranging from geological obstacles to student demand to millennial preferences. With the help of a Smart Growth Action Grant, the board brought in a planning expert to help guide the community in governing its own growth with a wise eye to the future.
Five Years Later, Walkability Study Commissioned by Coastal Carolinas Association of REALTORS® is Still Paying Dividends
In 2016, the REALTOR® Party established a Smart Growth mindset in the City of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, by funding an in-depth walkability study that continues to inform local decision-makers on infrastructure improvements. Improvements large and small undertaken by the local REALTORS® and the city have strengthened the partnership and leveraged additional outside support.
Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® Leverages a Smart Growth Poll to Create a Deeply Informed Regional Growth and Housing Action Plan
Using the information gleaned from the REALTOR® Party’s State and Local Growth Polling program, the Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® developed a plan identifying prescriptive steps to support affordable housing policy in the northern Virginia region.
Development in Montgomery County, MD, just north of the nation’s capital, is growing fast. The Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS® (GCAAR) wants to make sure it grows smart, as well. Two Smart Growth Grants from NAR have been helping it do so. The 8,500-member association used the first one to begin a member education program, which became a celebration of Montgomery County’s smart growth in action. The second enabled GCAAR to participate in a coalition of county officials, developers, and others to advocate for a comprehensive mass transit plan. Funds were also used to create a magazine compiling smart growth and local development information.
Greater Greenville Association of REALTORS® Uses the REALTOR® Party’s Growth Polling Program to Assess Voter Attitudes Toward Infrastructure and Housing Development
To gauge voter sentiment on a range of growth-related issues, the Greater Greenville Association of REALTORS® tapped into the polling service the REALTOR® Party provides for just that purpose. The results – some expected, some surprising – are helping the association to help Greenville County as it shapes policy and sends important legislation to the polls.
Greater Nashville Association Partners With Local Government to Breathe New Life to Tired Light-Industrial Area
The 3,000-member Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS® is committed to making its communities healthy and livable. And, that includes putting resources behind their convictions. Most recently, they used a $10,000 Smart Growth Grant from NAR to support NashvilleNext, a three-year process to help the region’s most challenged communities. The Nashville REALTORS® are working with the local government and national smart growth experts to breathe new life into Antioch, a suburban, light-industrial area, with an outdated mall and inadequate public transit.
The charming village and agricultural township of Lima, in the Finger Lakes region of New York, was in danger of falling victim to reckless sprawl and development. 'Big box' stores of dubious aesthetic value were creeping in, detracting from the architecture that had been in place for well over a century. The 2,500-member Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® (GRAR) put a smart growth grant from NAR together with one from the National Endowment for the Arts to support a weekend-long community design workshop. By working with other groups in the area, GRAR helped to draw attention to the importance of creating better public spaces – specifically in Lima. A portion of the grant will now be used for implementation of the ideas coming out of the workshop.
One weekend in early November 2013, the 3,000-member Hampton Roads REALTORS® Association [HRRA] co-hosted a block party launching a plan to turn a tired commercial/ residential area into a vibrant arts district. Using a $15,000 Smart Growth Grant, HRRA helped to pay for the “Better Block Weekend” including arranging for six vacant houses within a five-block radius to have open houses and creating a pop-up REALTOR® office in an empty storefront. The support and involvement of REALTORS there helped to create the exciting vision. Over time, with continued effort, that vision will become a reality.
Hays, Kansas has been updating its existing zoning and subdivision regulations to align with the Comprehensive Plan it adopted in 2012. With its expertise in the field of real estate, and in defense of public property rights, the 80-member Hays Board of REALTORS® used the REALTOR® Party’s Land Use Initiative to help bring clarity, vision and fairness to the process.
Bounded by the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a flood plain, sprawl isn’t necessarily an option for the Town of Waynesville, North Carolina; but using a REALTOR® Party Smart Growth Action Grant, the REALTORS® of Haywood County helped to inform its 2020 Comprehensive Land Use Plan by sponsoring a public Visioning Workshop.
The 20th century was very good to High Point, N.C., the capital of America’s furniture industry. For decades, though, thanks largely to overseas competition, its population has been contracting and the city itself is stagnating.
In the lovely resort town of Hilton Head, South Carolina, the natural environment is carefully protected, and the built environment is subject to strict regulations. But its low-key commercial areas were in need of polishing. The 850-member Hilton Head Area Association of REALTORS® worked with the town’s mayor and a $5,000 Smart Growth Grant from NAR to help rewrite an outdated Land Management Ordinance. The result is a balance between development and preservation that is benefitting the quality of life for all residents and tourists to the town.
On June 2, 2016, the Hopkinsville Dog Park was opened by an official ribbon cutting ceremony, with plenty of dogs in attendance, ready to romp. It was all the idea of the 56-member Hopkinsville Christian & Todd County Association of REALTORS® and a Placemaking Micro-Grant from the REALTOR® Party helped make it a reality.
The Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR) is using its $19,000 Game Changer Grant to help support a new bi-annual smart growth newsletter -- On Common Ground in Illinois. Loosely modeled on NAR’s On Common Ground smart growth magazine, the IAR publication specifically addresses issues of interest to Illinois residents. By producing and distributing the newsletter to officials in more than 1,300 Illinois municipalities, IAR hopes and expects to be viewed as the trusted source of information on important real estate issues like impact fees, foreclosure data, and market information, helping to advance the REALTORS® position and private property rights at the local level.
Is Smart Growth the Key to Preserving Montana’s ‘Big Sky?' Gallatin REALTORS® Funds Study to Find Answers.
A REALTOR® Party Smart Growth Action Grant enabled the Gallatin Association of REALTORS® to support an in-depth analysis of property tax value-per-acre in Bozeman, Montana. The resulting 3-D economic model clearly demonstrated the fiscal efficiency of concentrating growth in urban centers, rather than allowing sprawl, and will inform the development of the city’s Growth Plan.
When a proposed zoning ordinance threatened to negatively impact property values and marketability in Munster, the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of REALTORS® looked to the REALTOR® Party for help. By presenting the Town Council with a Land Use Initiative memorandum, it was able to neutralize the threat—and demonstrate its desire to enhance and strengthen the community.
The working families and millennials of Las Vegas’ Sahara/Decatur neighborhood were not privy to the development opportunities, glitz and glam of The Strip. The Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS® (GLVAR) created a three-part plan—using Smart Growth training and Action Grants to bring community and government partners together to brainstorm smart growth solutions; holding a Better Block event; and creating a marketing pack for potential developers—to elevate the livability and economic promise of the neighborhood.
To help the once-prosperous mill town of Sanford envision a future with walkable affordable housing and fresh economic contributors, the Maine Association of REALTORS® used a Smart Growth Action Grant to support a three-day charrette, in which all stakeholders had an opportunity to contribute ideas to a new downtown development.
The village of Seville, Ohio had been hard hit by the recent recession, and before that, by the imposition of a set of extremely limiting zoning codes that left its once-charming main street commercial district 33 percent unoccupied. It was anchored at each end by shuttered gas stations, constituting unsightly brownfields. A recently closed elementary school loomed vacant nearby, not just an empty property, but representing the absence of significant tax revenue from the village coffers. Within a year of receiving a $15,000 Smart Growth Action Grant from NAR through the 618-member Medina County Board of REALTORS® (MCBOR), Seville has bounced back in a big way.
The engaged members of the Medina County Board of REALTORS® help the 800-member association stay abreast of the needs of the community. With the help of the REALTOR® Party’s Housing Opportunity and Placemaking Grants, the organization has demonstrated its investment in the community by built gardens for low-income citizens, provide housing for disabled veterans and improve bike paths.
In Memphis, Tenn., as in many other American cities, the urban core and older suburban neighborhoods were crisscrossed by high speed multi-lane road networks, facilitating automobile and truck traffic but completely isolating certain areas of the city. The system was contributing to related problems of neighborhood blight, poverty, obesity, and poor air quality. The 3000-member Memphis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR,) decided to do something about it. They used a $15,000 Smart Growth Grant from NAR and worked with Smart Growth America to help Memphis become the 500th city to adopt a Complete Streets policy. Already, in downtown areas where streets have been put on "road diets," slowing the pace of traffic, increasing bike lanes, and making pedestrian activity safer; businesses along these altered roads are reporting higher activity.
With 46,000 members, the Miami Association of REALTORS® contributes significantly to the REALTOR® Party, but hadn't been able to utilize its grant programs with any efficiency of scale. But this year the association kicked off a program that better enables the large local associations to partake in all the opportunities available with maximum impact. Now, Miami is benefiting from a range of projects from dog parks to the development of a container house prototype, all with the support of the REALTOR® Party.
When the Michigan Association of REALTORS® (MAR) received an Ira Gribin grant from NAR a few years back, it funded a statewide initiative to study the benefits of placemaking in workforce housing. “As REALTORS®, we have been all about land use planning for a long time, but now we clearly need to focus on placemaking, specifically, as the real key to reversing the fortunes of the housing market here in Michigan.” says 2012 MAR President Beth Foley. Placemaking is a progressive movement that creates improved and distinctive public spaces by involving community input. In February 2012, when Governor Rick Snyder announced his own support for placemaking policies to help spur the state’s flagging economy, state leaders asked MAR to lead the way. Using a $15K Smart Growth Action Grant from NAR as seed money, the association did just that by hosting “MI Great Places,” the state’s first Placemaking Leadership Forum.
After two years, the 'Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper' placemaking challenge launched by the Michigan Association of REALTORS® (MAR) is proving that little things make a big difference.
From commuter-frustration to air quality, the Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS® (GNAR) understands the critical impact that transportation issues have on the quality of life in their region, -- and they’re doing something about it. With an NAR Smart Growth Grant, GNAR provided $10,000 in funding to the Transit Alliance of Middle Tennessee in support of the Transit Citizen Leadership Academy. The goal is to educate key community leaders on the complexities of mass transit. By preparing them now, the planning that lies ahead for a system of mass transit in Middle Tennessee will be a well-informed, cooperative process. As GNAR Association Executive Don Klein explains, “The idea is that, by the time it’s time to vote on funding, we won’t be just sitting around and talking about it. We will have created a critical mass of meaningfully informed community leaders who will be able to explain, ‘Yes, it’s going to be expensive, but it will be more expensive not to build it.’”
The White Mountains of New Hampshire are a popular tourist region, but affordable housing for would-be service industry staff is not meeting demand. The 150-member White Mountain Board of REALTORS® used a Smart Growth Action Grant to explore possible zoning changes that would permit higher density development—and more affordable housing.
New Orleans REALTORS® Bring Life Back to Beloved City Landmark With “Better Block” Redevelopment Project
When thousands of REALTORS® descended on the Crescent City for NAR’s Annual Conference in November this year, the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® decided to show them how a Better Block redevelopment project can make a difference in the still-recovering city. In an event featuring music, art and plenty of fun, the 4,400-member association showcased how they put a Smart Growth Grant to work to give hope to the desolate block that is home to the historic Dew Drop Inn. The event served as a kick-start for fundraising to revive the 70-year-old night club and hotel.
The eight neighborhoods comprising Bronx Community Board 9 (BXCB9) are 22% denser in population than the Bronx overall, and have very little vacant land available to develop. Using a series of Smart Growth Action Grants, the Bronx-Manhattan North Association of REALTORS® partnered with BXCB9 to develop a comprehensive plan, and help ensure that growth will benefit existing communities, new residents and businesses.
Instead of each local association individual advocacy and consumer outreach plans, North Carolina REALTORS®, the state association, used a Game Changer Grant to create a strong single program called “NC REALTORS®: The Smart Move” to promote public understanding of the value of using a REALTOR®, and to position REALTORS® as the premier real estate advocacy resource and a key community partner.
Downtown Oklahoma City is experiencing a huge boom, but its infrastructure was crumbling. The Oklahoma City Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® stepped in, joining the city to promote public meetings to craft bond proposals that would strengthen critical elements from sewers to the police department. A REALTOR® Party Issues Mobilization Grant helped get voters to the polls, where the bonds were overwhelmingly supported.
December 2012 While the 9,000-member Orlando Regional REALTORS® Association (ORRA) has been energetically supporting SunRail, central Florida’s first commuter rail project, association leaders felt some first-hand exposure for their members and local decision makers would kick it up a notch. Using a $1,500 Smart Growth Grant from NAR, ORRA was able to arrange for and promote a train ride for nearly 170 REALTORS®, leasing agents, elected officials, Chamber of Commerce members and others. The ride included presentations about the new depots and transit-oriented development projects planned along the route. The grant helped to provide substantial collateral materials for all participants, including a notebook containing “Transit Oriented Development 101,” produced by the Center for Responsible Transportation.
Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association and Aspire North REALTORS® (Traverse City, MI) Promote Strategic Development with Powerful 3D Economic Modelling
Passions were high, and the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association had been tipped-off by social media to expect protesters at the public meeting it was hosting. Duly warned, they hired security, but in fact, the REALTORS® welcomed the opposition: it meant a chance to reach people who were misunderstanding the data behind a recent economic report recommending higher-density development in the small central Florida city of Oviedo. The REALTORS® were sponsoring the meeting to clarify and defend the report and its recommendations prior to the City Council’s consideration of a new comprehensive plan. Thanks to the expertise and level-headed sensitivity of the team they brought in to face the music, the contentious affair became a highly productive community conversation. A savvy mayor supported the effort, and a Smart Growth Grant from the REALTOR® Party made it possible.
A Smart Growth Grant from the REALTOR® Party helped the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® take part in creating a Companion Unit Handbook explaining the nuts and bolts of Accessory Dwelling Units. The one-stop resource for homeowners has earned kudos from the mayor and the Urban Design Award from the San Diego Section of the American Planning Association.
To help find solutions to the severe housing shortage in San Diego, the REALTORS® of the Pacific Southwest joined forces with a coalition that proposed numerous Transit-Oriented Development strategies to the city. Shortly thereafter, the City Council unanimously adopted five new incentives to encourage in-fill development, especially along transit routes. A Smart Growth Action Grant from the REALTOR® Party helped the cause.
The 2,500-member Plymouth and South Shore Association of REALTORS® (PASS) has a strong and vital charitable arm that is accustomed to giving back, but past April 16, and again on Earth Day, about 20 members couldn’t resist an opportunity to by get out in the fresh air and get their hands dirty with a community garden placemaking project.
REALTOR® Party Smart Growth Grant for Better Block Event Leads to Five-Year Span of Investment from the City of South Bend
Seven years ago, the South Bend Area REALTORS® partnered with local organizations and businesses to create a Better Block event along a forlorn stretch of roadway on the edge of town. Their vision prompted the city to invest millions of dollars over the course of next five years, improving the streetscape and elevating the community.
With a Smart Growth Action Grant, money of their own, elbow grease and lots of enthusiasm, the South East Iowa Regional Board of REALTORS® partnered with the Better Block Foundation and other community leaders to host the Main Street Ottumwa Better Block Party, October 12-15. “Overnight, our quiet and struggling downtown commercial area became a place to come together to shop, to eat, to play games, to enjoy some music, and even dance!” The next steps are to transform what they learned from the weekend event into lasting improvements for Ottumwa’s downtown commercial area.
When the police department lacked funding to purchase hi-definition security cameras to help combat crime, the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® came to the rescue. Working with the New Orleans Police & Justice Foundation, the 4,000-member association used a Game Changer Grant to help increase safety and improve property values in their city.
Thanks to a Smart Growth Grant from NAR, the Santa Fe Association of REALTORS® (SFAR) is boosting the re-development of a dated and underutilized commercial corridor. Santa Fe REALTORS® could see potential in the mile-and-a-quarter stretch anchored by the Santa Fe University of Art and Design at one end and a hospital at the other end and decided to do something about bringing it to life. SFAR commissioned a Housing Advocacy Study that proposes a vibrant new design for the area -- including up to one thousand housing units. In February 2012, the Santa Fe City Council embraced the plan by passing a resolution that keeps the redevelopment project moving forward.
Santa Fe, like many communities across the country, is experiencing a serious workforce housing crunch. Using two Smart Growth Action Grants over the past ten years, the Santa Fe Association of REALTORS® is helping to spur the redevelopment of a central thoroughfare with an emphasis on form-based zoning and affordable housing.
The REALTORS® of the Schuylkill County Board used a Placemaking Grant to bring a local playground swinging back to life. The REALTOR® who spearheaded the project, having learned the workings of the Borough Council in the proposal process, was appointed to replace an outgoing Council member, and is now serving a second term as an indispensable public servant – and the only woman on the local governing body.
Using consecutive REALTOR® Party Smart Growth Action Grants, the Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS® has initiated a series of high-level workshops to focus the city's leadership on key development issues. The city of Scottsdale now looks to the REALTORS® for expertise and forward momentum.
With a series of Smart Growth Action Grants, Selkirk REALTORS® supported a multi-year planning process for an integrated network of pedestrian and bicycle routes in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Complete with graphic branding and signage, the plan will enhance the local active transport scene for residents, and contribute to the region’s growing appeal to bike tourism.
The 650-member Greater Fairfield Board of REALTORS® created an inviting 'pocket park' on an unused downtown corner. The 156-member Newtown Board of REALTORS® helped establish an attractive and productive 'Fruit Trail' of flowering trees and perennials along a recreational path. Both projects, made possible by the REALTOR® Party’s Placemaking Grants, have enhanced the towns and heightened the profile of the REALTORS®.
The 82-member Greater Mason City Board of REALTORS® in northern Iowa has prided itself on its community involvement, recently applying for a Placemaking Micro-grant. To formalize its program, the association developed a Core Standards Committee and Community Outreach Task Force consisting of a handful of REALTORS® and its one-and-a-half staff members, who have ramped up the group’s already robust tradition of community service to an impressive pitch.
The 495-member Greater South Bend-Mishawaka Association of REALTORS® took the lead in breathing new life into a largely Hispanic local neighborhood. With a Smart Growth Grant, funds of its own, and lots of community engagement, they hosted a Better Block Weekend last October that transformed an under-used area into a new streetscape with bike lanes, wider sidewalks, landscaping and lighting. The lively event with street vendors and music helped residents envision a new future for the area and set the stage for permanent improvements.
Using REALTOR® Party resources, the REALTOR® Association of Southern Minnesota hosted a WalkShop event to determine how the revival of Mankato’s Old Town section could be even more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly. The half-day program included a walking tour with an expert consultant, and a whole lot of brainstorming.
The St. Louis Association of REALTORS® (SLAR) combined U.S. government resources and an NAR Smart Growth Grant to produce a two-part program on walk-able communities -- one that it hopes may serve as a national model. Tapping the expertise of a national “walk-ability expert,” the 7,000-plus member association hosted two events stressing the clear connection between walk-ability and property values, The kick-off event of Walk/Live St. Louis 2012 was a half-day public session at the St. Louis Federal Reserve auditorium. The second session featured a two days of walking audits and visits to metrolink stations, and included mayors and other elected officials, city managers and municipal staff. The programs showcased REALTORS® “in a whole new way, according to SLAR organizers, “showing them as a collaborative organization committed to making communities more walk-able, bike-able – and safe.”
Three North Carolina Communities Jumpstart Revitalization with Mainstreet Downtown Assessments Supported by the REALTOR® Party
Using Smart Growth grants from the REALTOR® Party, the McDowell Board of REALTORS®, the Yancey Association of REALTORS®, and the High Country Association of REALTORS®, all in western North Carolina, commissioned assessments of small town centers with an eye toward sustainable residential and commercial growth.
With just 625 members, the Traverse Area Association of REALTORS® (TAAR) is a small but mighty force in northwest lower Michigan. Decades ago, it helped develop the database system that is now the heart of the electronic Multiple Listing System. Now, with no fewer than three NAR Smart Growth Grants in play, TAAR is establishing itself as a team of well-informed local citizens, with access to real information and resources where community planning is concerned. From its participation in a multi-faceted regional land-use plan called The Grand Vision, to its funding of a smart growth poll on zoning, to helping implement a local watershed plan, TAAR is showing that REALTORS there do much more than just sell houses.
For years, the Traverse Area REALTORS® have worked to build coalitions focused on developing much-needed workforce housing. With the support of Housing Opportunity Grants, it is now participating in an ambitious campaign that will create a network of engaged, informed grassroots housing advocates in neighborhoods throughout the region.
In its day, the City of Kingston, NY – the only urban community in Ulster County -- was a major railway hub connecting multiple corridors. Today, with the help of an NAR Smart Growth Action Grant, the nearly 600-member Ulster County Board of REALTORS® is transforming Kingston into a hub of rail-trails that connects the city's neighborhoods and business districts with each other and with the rural areas beyond.
With support from an Issues Mobilization Grant, the Utah Association of REALTORS® was able to convince state lawmakers that impact fees imposed on new development were not a rational source of funding for local schools – and would actually exacerbate the affordable housing crisis. Sustainable growth, the REALTORS® argue, will come from smart regional planning.
Using a REALTOR® Party Smart Growth Action Grant, the Whatcom County Association of REALTORS® (WA) was a major sponsor of a dynamic placemaking competition that drew 24 participants and more than 500 community members. Judging from its success, the REALTORS® know it will make an impact—and plan to make it an annual event.
Nearly 600 REALTORS® from the Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS® (WRAR) participated in its second annual REALTOR® Action Day—aka "RAD." From playing music at senior centers to planting plants and clean-up and landscaping projects, RAD was full of WRAR members working to improve their community. Nearly 100 participants built a community garden with park benches and a tool shed using a $3,000 Placemaking Micro-grant.
Wisconsin's 575-member Commercial REALTOR® Association (CARW) walks the walk when it comes to its commitment to economic development and wise use of the land. In 2012, CARW put a NAR Smart Growth Grant to work in providing research and input to Wisconsin’s Economic Development Corporation. CARW’s participation helped to develop a new strategic plan for economic growth, job creation, and related matters including transportation, land use, and the environment. Then, last year, CARW used a second Smart Growth Grant to work with the City of Milwaukee in creating a plan to rebuild or renovate an aging sports arena in the downtown area.
With Better Block Event, Longleaf Pine REALTORS® Demonstrate Just How Pedestrian-Friendly Haymount Can Be
Within Fayetteville, North Carolina, the Haymount district is blessed with neat neighborhoods of cottage-style homes and proximity to downtown, but its commercial district is cursed by an environment that is distinctly unfriendly to pedestrians. Armed with a vision, a Smart Growth Action Grant, and a whole lot of duct tape, the local Longleaf Pine REALTORS® set out to change that.
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