Social and Recreational Programs Building Community in Condo, Co-op and HOA Communities

Condo, co-op and HOA communities come in all sizes, shapes, and locations. They can range from literally thousands of units spread across multiple high-rise buildings, or scores of single-family townhomes in sprawling HOAs. They can be designed for residents of specific age, like 55+ active-adult communities; or for multi-generational living geared toward health, such as the growing ‘wellness-living’ communities that provide everything from yoga classes to movie theaters to school systems. They can be located anywhere. What they have in common – and what sets them apart from single-family home living, even in large single-family HOAs—is residents’ desire to be part of a defined community, and community administrators’ efforts to facilitate that.

Living in a Lively Place

Sue Bregman has been a resident of The Point in Aventura, Florida for more than 20 years. The Point, an open condominium community with no age restrictions, is composed of five residential towers set amid 36 acres of landscaped park area, and includes over 1,000 units. The community is centered on the 25,000-square-foot Residents Club & Spa—known simply as ‘the Spa’—which includes three pools, a waterfront social club and promenade, and a state-of-the-art exercise and training facility. The Residents Club also offers activities both within and outside the complex under the direction of a full-time social director and volunteer social committee. Bregman explains that the individual buildings in the complex have their own social committees as well.

She participates in activities sponsored or arranged by the social committees in the Spa and her building five days a week. While retired, she says that “work has nothing to do with attendance. If you’ve got a friend who’s going to an activity, you’ll go, too. We try to run the gamut here, to get young people to participate as well as older. The Spa organizes activities for families with children as well.”

Over-55 and Active

Marge Hoffman, a resident of Somerset Run, a 55-and-up community located in Somerset, New Jersey, reports a similar structure in her complex. Somerset Run is an HOA composed of primarily single-family homes with some condominium units, for a total of just over 1,000 residences. There is a clubhouse with a social director, but Hoffman notes that many activities are member-conceived and member-executed. “The social director sets up lots of activities,” she says, “but within the community there are people who set up their own programs and activities.” So while the social director at the clubhouse may organize trips to New York or Philadelphia to see a show or visit a museum, other types of activities, such as book clubs or mahjong and canasta games, are organized by the residents. 

Where the two social forces intersect is in space planning. “If you want to use a room at the clubhouse for your group, that’s fine,” Hoffman explains, “but you have to arrange it with the social director at the clubhouse. Some other group may have a space that you want booked at the time you want it, so you might have to change your time if the space isn’t available.” As a rule, activities that involve travel out of the community—and those things that involve a great deal of logistics, like a community dinner with entertainers for say, New Year’s Eve, or a trip to a show in Manhattan—tend to be organized by the social director. Activities that are more local, like a book club or a card game, tend to be organized by the residents.

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