There are many reasons why people choose to live in a condo building or homeowner’s association. It might be the building’s close proximity to a job or family, or maybe the resident would prefer for someone else to mow the lawn, fix the roof and take care of the property. For some residents, the biggest appeal of this type of living is the built-in community of neighbors that come with multifamily living.
Teresa Mears lived in a condo of about 100 units in Miami overlooking Biscayne Bay for a year. It was part of a larger complex of three buildings with separate facilities and associations. “I used the pool occasionally, though not as often as I should have, and I liked using the hot tub,” she says.
However, the line "If you build it, they will come" may have worked for Kevin Costner's character in the movie Field of Dreams, but the same doesn't always hold true for condos and HOAs. Simply having a common space for residents to use—whether it be a hot tub, a wine cellar, or a barren conference room—doesn’t magically entice them to leave their units and gather together. Making your common spaces into true community magnets often requires some effort.
“Fully utilizing amenities is a terrific method for enhancing values in any community, because it creates an identification for the community as a place where people really want to live,” says Barbara Proctor, a senior property manager at Konover South in Deerfield Beach. “Every community is unique in terms of what it has to offer. The question becomes, how do you identify what needs to be done to maximize the value and usefulness of these common spaces?”
To name one key example, the South Florida weather makes outdoor spaces among the most common and popular venues for socializing. “Most communities feature one or more pools with a lot of lounge seating,” says Byron Moger, executive director for multifamily business development and client services at Cushman & Wakefield, based in Tampa. “Some have inflatable movie screens for outdoor movie nights, outdoor kitchens and bars for entertaining, fire pits, putting greens, playgrounds and other recreational areas.” He adds that one of the fastest growing amenities are dog parks for socialization among the residents and their four-legged 'children.'