Top Community Amenities

top community amenities cal am far horizons east tucson

MHInsider magazine posed the question to a diverse group of community owners and operators “What do you feel are the most important community amenities and why?” We received lists and detailed explanations on varying approaches to creating the best possible community assets for owners and residents from pet parks to RV parking and storage.

Stephanie Martin Lamberson is in sales and marketing strategy for Sun Communities, and previously worked for Carefree Communities and Cove Communities.

“From my experience dog parks are one of the more affordable and popular community amenities we can offer. The cost to us is generally fairly inexpensive, in some cases we purchase pet equipment other than doggy bag stations, but generally we can utilize a lot or area of the community that wouldn’t normally be viable for placing a home because of slope or lot size for instance,” Lamberson said. “We turn it into an amenity that most people in the community with a dog can utilize. I would say they are equally as popular in all age and 55+ properties.”

top community amenities playground umh properties
This UMH Properties community has a new, safe, and fun place for children to play. Photo courtesy of UMH Properties.

Residents Volunteers, Community Programs

Another very popular and viable option is to create activities programs, she said.

“In our 55+ communities, these often are volunteer-run, and some communities have a paid activities staff generally based on the size of the community,” Lamberson said. “But most programs are run by passionate volunteers who want to share their love for a card game, craft, social activity or sport with others.

“Having well-rounded activities programs at our 55+ properties is one of the best things we can offer our residents,” she said. “It keeps people active, and excited and gives them something to look forward to whether it is a daily or weekly activity.”

Other amenities Sun finds important to its communities include the community clubhouse, the fitness center, and the pool.

top community amenities woodshop voyager rv resort tucson ELS communities
Voyager RV Resort in Tucson, Ariz., has myriad craft and activities rooms including a full woodshop.

“Those features are built when we remodel or develop a property from the ground up and are generally required to have in all of our new developments,” Lamberson said. “And recently we have added pickleball courts, when feasible, mostly in active adult 55+ properties.”

Steven Blank, of Blank Family Communities, pointed to the playground setup and a basketball court.

“It adds a large draw for families,” Blank said. “It’s cost-efficient and adds to the aesthetics of the community.

“Also, a clubhouse with space for parties legitimizes the community as much as a community pool, which can be heavy maintenance, but people like them,” he added.

Jennifer Ludovice, vice president of public relations for Equity LifeStyle Properties, said at ELS communities pickleball is a favorite amenity among residents, along with clubhouses as a gathering space for social activities, and swimming pools, fitness centers, and dog parks.

“Woodworking seems to be a growing interest in activities and crafting,” she said. “The opportunity for social interaction among residents is highly valued, whether in small crafting or activity groups or gatherings for community-wide events.”

Cal Am properties manufactured home community amenities horizons east tucson
Dog parks in manufactured home communities have proven to be one of the most highly valued, and easy-to-operate resident amenities.

Look for High Value, Low Maintenance

Christine Lindsay is vice president of sales for UMH Properties.

“I think having amenities helps set our communities apart from others in the area,” Lindsay said. “It also increases the value of the home selling price and rent price. Many of our residents choose our communities because of the amenities that we offer. Some low maintenance amenities that are great to have include…”

  • Dog parks
  • Community bicycles
  • Basketball courts
  • Walking trails
  • Fitness center
  • Pavilion picnic/outdoor lounge area
  • Pickleball court
  • Shuffleboard court
  • Bocce Ball court
  • Business center
  • Playground

“Of course, swimming pools, hot tubs, and splash pads are a huge plus, but do require ongoing maintenance,” Lindsay said.

Her colleague, Ayal Dreifuss, is vice president of the rental division at UMH Properties. He said the value a resident may derive from any community amenity can be regarded in a pair of ways: For homeowners and for renters.

“Of course, it’s always nice to have a swimming pool and a clubhouse in your community, and as a selling point for homeowners it’s a great way to show investment in the community. For renters, it’s not needed as much,” Dreifuss said. “I think most renters are asking for a nice, house in a safe neighborhood at a price they can afford… amenities would just be something they appreciate, not something they would typically ask for.

“For a homeowner, I think all amenities, in general, are very important, even if you personally don’t use the swimming pool, for example, it’s always nice to look at and feels like it adds value to your personal investment,” he said.

Innovative Community Offerings

Vanessa Jasinski, of Yes Communities, concurred with many of her colleagues in community operations and sales throughout the industry, endorsing playgrounds and indoor and outdoor common spaces for all-ages communities, and the clubhouse pickleball courts and other activities at 55+ properties.

However, there was one notable exception in the Yes Communities approach.

“We are testing out a golf simulator at Holly Hills in Michigan,” Jaskinski said. “We have had requests and heard that it would be great to have one in the clubhouse, and have created a specific place for it that’s still under construction. It’s a perfect addition for cold weather climates.”

Maria Horton is the director of marketing and a regional manager for the Newport Pacific Family of Companies, which owns and helps operate manufactured home and RV communities.

“At some communities, like The Meadows in Irvine,  there are craft rooms, a library, a machine shop, a styling salon, basically anything that piques or furthers the hobbies or interests of residents,” Horton said. “This is first-class, it’s done really well. It’s a non-profit client, Jamboree, and we manage the property for them. It’s a beautiful place, a beautiful clubhouse foyer, office for the staff, everything is very, very nice.”

But for every property decisions have to be made, she said, about what residents really want and what the market will support.

“For instance, tennis is still a thing, too, even with all the emphasis now on pickleball,” she added. “And of course everyone should have pet areas. Walking trails and paths are very important, too, and work well if you have room for them. And the need for high-quality access to the internet with both wireless, most importantly for work and school, but also there should be a place where residents who don’t’ have a computer can come sit and contact family, do research, or read the news.”

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