Bringing Life to Small Downtown Spaces

New York’s Central Park and Chicago’s Grant Park are just two examples of large-scale green spaces that meet the needs of a wide-range of community members. But what to do if you have limited public space downtown, or limited funds?

Small-scale pocket parks are one answer.

These small parks provide a welcome respite and often reflect the unique needs of the nearby community.

These initiatives are typically inexpensive enough to be funded by grants from public or nonprofit agencies and to operate on leased land. Here are just three examples:

In Fort Myers, FL, the Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency Board of Commissioners is developing a pocket park. The property being repurposed was once home to a historic wood-frame building built in 1900 and later demolished in 2019. A private owner leased the site to the CRA for 15 years.

In Farmington, NM, a second downtown pocket park won approval in 2023. The Northwest New Mexico Arts Council received a $15,000 Community Challenge grant from the AARP to build the amenity near a Main Street art gallery.

And in Colfax, IA, the downtown is getting a pocket park, including brick pavers, tables, chairs, bicycle racks, planter boxes, a sculptural partition, and other public art. The project was funded by a T-Mobile Hometown Grant.

More on bringing life to small downtown spaces appears in Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter. Click to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.

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