When you were a child, you probably tuned into the PBS show Mister Rogers Neighborhood, where a homespun sweater-clad Fred Rogers often sang “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
Mr. Rogers might be singing a different tune today if he were a property manager of a big multifamily building or development, where it’s often a challenge getting residents to mix and mingle. That said, buyers or shareholders frequently choose communities not only because they like their units or the neighborhood, but because co-ops and condos offer a level of socialization and community that other neighborhoods with single family homes might not have.
It Takes a Village
Co-ops and condos operate as little communities or villages unto themselves—they have their board, their manager, their residents and their maintenance and door staff, and that seems to be all they need. They key question, though, is with everyone so busy and insulated, and with leisure activities often devoted to indoor activities in front of a TV screen or a computer, how do residents actually get out and meet and greet their next-door neighbors?
For many boards and associations, the answer is simple: social events.
“It’s up to the board to create a culture that basically brings families together,” says Bob Friedrich, a board president of Glen Oaks Village, a Queens co-op community with 3,000 families. “We’ve made sure to do that very carefully over the years. We know other communities that don’t want people playing on the grass, but we encourage people to sit outside and we put chairs and tables outside for them to do so and our families stay outside and barbecue together.”