The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has created a program called “Build a Better Block.” The goals of the program is to transform downtown and commercial corridors back to they great places they once were by making them into walkable communities as well as vibrant destinations for both residents and visitors.
According to their site, local Realtor associations can take the lead in their communities to help turn things around. NAR’s Smart Growth Action Grant can be used to help fund a Better Block project. After the project is completed, the Placemaking Micro-grant can be used to create vibrant community gathering places like pocket parks and gardens followed by a Housing Opportunity Grant to address affordable housing challenges in the neighborhood.
Better Block demonstrates the potential of an area with “temporary treatments (i.e. painting, bike lanes, and parklets) to vacant buildings, underused streets and public spaces. “This temporary transformation provides a way for residents and community leaders to participate in the process. It also helps to convince public officials, stakeholders, lenders and property owners of the potential of an area. Think of it as a dress rehearsal for change.”
One of the benefits is that this is an alternative to the traditional planning process that can be long, involve endless public and committee hearings, and cause strife amongst the stakeholders and residents.
Learn more about Build a Better Block.