Mike Norris and Gary Jackson presenting at NCCCMA Winter Seminar

Game Changer! Turning Spaces into Great Places in Your Community

McGill Showcases Public Space Transformations in Winston-Salem at the NCCCMA Winter Seminar

Mike Norris, PLA, Director of Land Planning and Recreation
Mike Norris, PLA, Director of Land Planning and Recreation

Transformative Places and Placemaking Concepts

McGill was selected through a competitive process to present at the North Carolina City and County Management Association (NCCCMA) Winter Seminar on February 6 in Winston-Salem. Along with Mid-Atlantic Associates, McGill’s Mike Norris and Gary Jackson presented to over 50 civil servants on creating great public spaces. In their presentation, “Game Changer! Turning Spaces into Great Places in your Community,” they shared four success stories of transformative places and highlighted placemaking concepts and practical takeaways in the development of public spaces: parks, greenways, streetscapes, and other open spaces where communities gather. Mike and Gary shared examples from places throughout North Carolina from streetscape projects in small towns like the Town of West Jefferson to multimillion-dollar projects like Pack Square in Asheville.

Placemaking Process is Collaborative

Gary Jackson, Business Services Manager
Gary Jackson, Business Services Manager

Mike and Gary bring significant experience to the conversation on placemaking and how to fund community projects that create memorable spaces. Prior to joining McGill, Jackson served as Asheville’s City Manager while Norris leads McGill’s land planning and recreation division and has done so for the past 18 years. From Norris and Jackson’s experience, great places must be flexible, accessible, attractive, diverse, sensory, memorable, and reflect the community identity of the place. The placemaking process starts with a vision to create a space that meets all these factors. For a successful placemaking process, it is critical for city and county managers to bring their communities along the process through social media, public meetings, and by providing a central location where residents can see project updates.

Conference attendees listen to, “Game Changer! Turning Spaces into Great Places in your Community” during the NCCCMA Winter Seminar on February 6th.
Conference attendees listen to, “Game Changer! Turning Spaces into Great Places in your Community,” during the NCCCMA Winter Seminar on February 6th.

Turning Ideas Into Reality

People are excited about engaging public spaces and are getting behind projects to create new parks, greenways, and walkable streetscapes. McGill knows how to lead people through the creative process of establishing a vision through collaborative design. Once ideas are on paper, McGill helps communities find funding, both public and private to turn these ideas into reality. These funds include health and wellness grants from the private sector, grants for parks and recreation and ADA improvements, nonprofit donations, and naming rights.

Visit our Thermal Belt Rail Trail Case Study to see how McGill worked with multiple partners to transformed an old railroad into a multimodal trail.

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