Lady Bird Johnson once said, "While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few, it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many."
The first lady of the United States (1963-1969) had the right idea, but in a sprawling urban environment like New York City, people can feel isolated even though high-rise residential buildings put many people and families in very close proximity to one another. Living cheek-by-jowl doesn't automatically turn a group of people into a community—sometimes it even has the opposite effect. Lives are busy and schedules hectic, and the last thing many people want to do when they're at home is socialize with their neighbors.
However, building a sense of community is valuable for the residents—it creates a network of communication and support among building residents, and ultimately improves the quality of life within the building community.
"The importance of community spirit in an urban setting cannot be underestimated," says Jonathan Klein, president of Wentworth Property Management in Brooklyn. "If residents and shareholders do not feel a sense of community spirit, this can create an atmosphere where residents can feel disenfranchised and powerless. A positive community spirit creates a sense of neighborhood, accountability and an outlet to voice wants and needs within the community."
That value extends beyond the residents too and helps to improve the reputation and quality of the building, says Steve Kass, president of the Nanuet, New York-based American Leisure Corporation, a company that, among other things, creates events for building residents to enjoy.