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Milwaukee, WI

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: This project contributed to efforts to revitalize a park, creating a safe, outdoor gathering for residents of Milwaukee's Historic King Drive neighborhood. Improvements included bollards with solar-powered lights, accessible picnic tables, trash receptacles and orange benches branded with the name of the neighborhood. Additionally, the BID convened an art task force and used tax increment financing to fund a new mural in the neighborhood. The success of the project also build momentum for branding efforts in nearby neighborhoods.

Gary, IN

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: Residents of Genesis Towers -- an affordable housing complex for older adults -- often congregated in a vacant lot in Gary's downtown. This project set out to activate the lot into an accessible gathering space. Local students worked to gather input from residents about their hopes for the new park, and the City held design workshops. Plans for the space featured ADA-accessible walkways, seating, picnic tables and raised garden beds. Organizers also worked to provide free Wi-Fi access in the space, as well as a bike repair station. Organizers say the park is designed to host free or low-cost events -- part of the overarching goal of combatting social isolation through innovative public spaces.

San Antonio, TX

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2020

Project Category: Public space activation

Description: The City of San Antonio's World Heritage Office made improvements to the World Heritage Trail, which connects five Spanish colonial missions. The trail is one of only 24 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the U.S. To make the trail a more inviting place for people of all ages to walk, run and bike, the City added an interactive art installation beneath a highway overpass, which depicts each mission's location along the San Antonio River. They also installed limestone benches along the trail. Project organizers say the upgrades are meant to help visitors view a series of murals painted as part of a public art initiative.

Nearby AARP Community Challenge Projects

Louisville, KY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2018

Project Category: Roadway/sidewalks/crosswalk improvement

Description: At a width of 150 feet, Louisville's Ninth Street had the feel of a thoroughfare. To improve the street's safety and aesthetics, Louisville Metro Government upgraded sidewalks, painted bars to make crosswalks more visible to drivers and changed signals to give pedestrians more crossing time. To give people a space to rest, they added benches to an underused green space in the median, the site of an existing sculpture. Doing so created a public space for residents declared that a place to sit and rest in the area was one of their preferred amenities. Organizes say the project has sparked conversations about how to continue improving the pedestrian experience on Ninth Street. Louisville is now exploring adding bike lanes, as well as bump-outs to make crossing distances smaller. We want to redesign this corridor with people in mind and not just cars, Gretchen Millikin, director of advanced planning, said.

Louisville, KY

AARP Community Challenge Grant Year: 2021

Project Category: Accessory dwelling units, tiny homes and manufactured housing

Description: After the City of Louisville updated its zoning code to allow accessory dwelling units, Planning Design Services set out to inform homeowners about their options. ADUs -- or smaller, second homes constructed on preexisting residential lots -- offer an accessible and affordable housing option. Working with a consultant, PDS collected stories about ADUs from residents, including homeowners building ADUs. They also held listening sessions with community leaders, advocates and influences. A community-wide survey helped City staff understand local attitudes about ADUs, including perceived barriers to constructing them. Based on this research, PDS created a public service announcement commercial, as well as a social media ad campaign. Additionally, they created a how-to guide and list of resources to guide homeowners through the process of constructing an ADU. Planners hope the effort leads to more ADU permitting, which will help fill the community's need for missing middle housing.

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