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Detroit-area REALTORS Invest in Community Spaces

By Anthony SanFilippo
May 2018


Metro Detroit Area REALTORS®  Invest in ‘Placemaking’

When it comes to buying a home, there are a lot of decisions that go into a purchase.

Of course, the physical property itself is probably the most important detail, but it’s often the final one.

Homebuyers often consider cities, towns or neighborhoods based on many other factors such as schools, taxes, safety and quality of life.

Some REALTORS® in Michigan are trying to help improve the latter, to build up their communities, attract new residents and visitors, bring life to downtown areas, preserve open and green spaces and support walkable communities.

The Greater Metropolitan Association of REALTORS® (GMAR), an association that includes metropolitan Detroit and the surrounding suburban communities, offers placemaking grants to help provide some financial support to members and local governments to help plan, design and manage public spaces by capitalizing on the community’s assets, inspiration and potential.

“I think placemaking is a bit underreported,” said James Iodice, President of GMAR Board of Directors. “For us there’s a natural relationship there. As communities become more attractive home values increase, which benefits everyone.”

GMAR accepts applications for grants from their own members, local governments or other civic organizations to partner with GMAR to make these quality of life improvements.

In 2017, GMAR gave out grants to eight projects in eight different cities within their area.

For example, they gave $5,000 to RE/MAX Classic REALTOR® Pat Rice and Wayne Main Streets in Wayne, Mich. to increase foot traffic in the downtown area by activating an alley as an attractive place for the community to gather.

The grant money will go toward festooned lighting, seating and to purchase and install a bike rack.

Additionally, the GMAR Board will support an effort to obtain additional placemaking grants from Michigan REALTORS® as well as the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) to go toward this project.

“We invested $15,000 in 2017,” Iodice said. “And we are going to invest even more than that in 2018.”

“We promote it locally because there’s a natural interest in grant dollars, so it has an organic approach to it too, which is kind of cool.”

Additional projects include:

  • A grant of $3,500 in Ferndale to install a permanent fence around the perimeter of the Good Neighbors Garden, a community garden that provides fresh vegetables to the members of the community.
  • A $3,500 grant to the city of Algonac to fund a pet-friendly water fountain in the center of a dog park included as part of a larger community park project that is being built by a partnership with the City and the Algonac Lions Club.
  • Providing a grant in the amount of $2,500 as part of Detroit’s Brightmoor Initiative. The money will go toward the remodeling of a house that will serve as a tool shed and store front for a community garden that provides free fruit to its neighbors.
  • An approved grant of $2,500 to Starlite Properties and the City of Southfield to restore a damaged piece of art that was purchased from the Northland Mall Art collection. Some of the funds are also being earmarked for installation costs for a recently improved walking path.
  • In Melvindale, the city received a substantial donation from Marathon to rehabilitate and reopen its community pool. A GMAR placemaking grant of $1,000 would go directly toward the purchase of bike racks at the pool and to replace broken playground equipment at the neighboring park.

There were two additional projects that Iodice highlighted as exciting initiatives that GMAR is thrilled to be able to help fund with a placemaking grant.

“We are working with [Lynn Ketelhut of Park Avenue Realty] and the Allen Park Citizens Civic Fund to help install ‘little libraries’ in all 22 of the city’s public parks,” Iodice said.

The Allen Park Citizens Civic Fund teamed up with the City and Allen Park High School to install these libraries. The GMAR grant of $850 will cover expenses while high school students will build the libraries, the city will install them, and the Civic Fund volunteers will maintain them.

“We also have a park in a hot neighborhood – called REALTOR® Park – in Royal Oak,” Iodice said. “We want to leverage all three of our grant avenues there as well (Michigan REALTORS® and NAR).”

The GMAR grant in Royal Oak was $1,000 and is covering expenses to clean up the park, replace the mulch and install two little libraries.

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