Creating Community in New Jersey It Takes a Village

While high-rise residential buildings put many people and families in very close proximity to one another, living side-by-side doesn’t automatically turn a group of people into a community—sometimes it even has the opposite effect. 

Lives are busy and schedules are hectic, and the last thing many people want to do when they’re at home is to go socialize with their neighbors. Building a sense of community in a building or HOA is valuable, however, it creates a network of communication and support among building residents, and ultimately improves the quality of life within the building community. Let’s take a look at the delicate balance between privacy and community.

Urban Sanctuaries 

A generation ago, even when New Jerseyans held jobs in New York City, suburbs reigned over urban areas as the premium places of residence. Lawns and local Main Streets offered a respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city. But, now more young professionals are looking to stay closer to the city, and raise their children there. High-rises on the Gold Coast have been a popular  home for many new homeowners. 

Suburban towns may foster more private bedroom communities, but schools, little leagues, and public spaces offered citizens to interact with one another. Though individuals and families are more densely packed in to high rises, many of these buildings ironically foster less neighborliness. For some reason, the close quarters tends to make people less open, perhaps in order to protect some sacred, quiet space after the incessant crowds of the streets and offices during the day. What this means is that residents in city apartments, unlike others in the suburbs or exurbs, are less likely to depend on their neighbors as a social outlet. “We find that the majority of high rises that we manage really are more private, but the goal is to create a more community-type feel, and foster more neighborliness, but they do tend to be more private,” says Andrew Batshaw, executive director of FirstService Residential Mid-Atlantic’s High Rise Division in Lyndhurst.

David J. Amster, the president of Prime Locations Inc. in Yonkers, has also seen this happen. “It’s complacency—resident complacency,” he says. “People don’t want to be involved in the building.” Many high-rise dwellers lead very busy lives, and getting involved where they live can just seem like an extra burden on their already full plate.

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