People talk about how there’s no sense of community in their [apartment] buildings,” Stephanie said. “Not in the buildings I manage.”
Some years ago Stephanie saw a woman sitting by herself at a barbecue. She started talking to her, then invited her out to dinner with friends. Now the woman, who had just moved here from Chicago, is one of Stephanie’s closest friends.
The Seattle Freeze aside, Stephanie doesn’t just want to connect tenants to each other, but to their city. Her company, Equity Residential, operates 34 apartment buildings in the Seattle area. Some of them are new, and part of the boom that’s making some locals uneasy about how fast the city’s changing. Stephanie looks for ways to involve local businesses in the building’s social events, and organizes some charity drives for tenants.
“My building’s a very expensive community to live in,” Stephanie said. People have disposable income, “and that income should go back into our neighborhood.”
Stephanie is a member of the board of the Ballard Alliance, and is getting to know a lot of people in the neighborhood herself.
“My company really just pays me to build relationships with people,” she said. “I love that I have a platform to get people together just to do life together.”
More apartment buildings should be taking a community strategy. I firmly believe we’re going to start seeing a long term trend towards lifestyle focused apartment/condo complexes, which include a mix of community events to increase engagement, and decrease tenant churn.