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Community Outreach Programs Help Build Local Commercial Real Estate

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Brokers know that helping build good communities is good business. The National Association of REALTORS® Community Outreach programs help you and your local REALTOR® Association get more involved by providing resources to target community initiatives while giving you an ally in legislative and smart growth matters.

Programs Available for Your Community
The scenery is stunning in Breckenridge, Colo., but there was trouble on the horizon. Some people in the alpine resort were suggesting offices, including real estate offices, be banned from occupying ground-floor spaces on downtown’s Main Street. The Summit Association of REALTORS® (SAR), concerned with what would happen if a proposal were to reach the city council, reached out to NAR’s Land Use Initiative and, as a result, was given expert opinion and guidance from the law firm of Robinson & Cole. SAR received a set of talking points that made a strong case against banning ground-floor offices, giving the association and brokers the authority on information needed to talk to the community. It resulted in the issue becoming so contentious that it went away and has not come back.

In Maine, the Smart Growth Mobility Project/Maine Rail Transit Coalition is working to use 30 miles of idle track from two of the state’s largest population centers, Portland and Auburn/Lewiston, to connect people to job centers. In response to their members, the Maine Commercial Association of REALTORS® (MCAR) has become a key player in the process. MCAR secured a $15,000 Smart Growth Action Grant from NAR, allowing a diverse coalition of developers, environmentalists and public officials to complete an important study and seek necessary changes in transportation funding and land-use planning policies.

Hays, Kan., is small, but the population has grown more than 30 percent over the last 40 years, straining the city’s stock of affordable housing. Demand from retirees, young professionals and students at Fort Hays State University is outstripping supply. To meet these challenges, the Hays Board of REALTORS® (HBR) obtained a $2,000 Housing Opportunity Grant from NAR to help conduct a survey of the community’s housing needs and identify solutions. While the survey focused on the need for affordable housing, the issue affects commercial real estate, as the shortage of places for workers to live discourages businesses from expanding into the area. Some of the solutions to the housing shortage also involve commercial real estate, including using the upper floors of downtown commercial buildings for housing and creating a Core to Campus Corridor where housing would be within easy walking distance of the university, downtown and a busy shopping district.

Recently in Atlanta, a $10,000 Smart Growth Action Grant from NAR helped jump-start planning for transit-oriented development at a rail station. The recipients of the grant, The Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS®, help facilitate a charrette—a planning workshop where various constituents gathered to develop a common vision for a Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) station in suburban Edgewood. With a large—but underutilized—parking lot, the seven-acre site was ripe for redevelopment. Armed with market data supplied by ACBR, charrette participants came up with a live/work/play design featuring multi-story apartment buildings, shops, restaurants, a parking garage and central commons. The Board then lobbied to ensure the final report was incorporated into the city’s comprehensive development plan.

With more tools available than ever before, broker awareness has never been more important. Talk to your local REALTOR® Association staff about these and other programs available. Together, you can be champions in building a stronger community for all.

For more information on NAR’s Community Outreach programs and how you can become more involved in building your local community, please visit http://bit.ly/NAROutreach.

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