omething different to every community. In newer communities, the clubhouse sets the atmosphere and tone for the development. It represents the standards that residents are expected to meet on their own homesites in terms of cleanliness and age. In older communities, the glitz and glamour may have all worn off, and the clubhouse is simply a place to gather to meet old friends and neighbors. All-age communities generally have lots of open space indoors for little people to play and enjoy energy-filled activities. In 55+ communities, the clubhouse may be for card games and pot lucks, crafts, and even line dancing.
To the manager, however, the clubhouse may also be an office. Many times the office is a room or an area of the clubhouse. In this case, there are several considerations for meshing the unique needs of these two uses within one building. Traffic flow is important. Hours of operation are a prime consideration. The ability to completely secure the office from the cubhouse allows more hours of operation for activities. Conducting business in an office with activities going on during office hours requires some creativity in floor planning.
How to make it all come together? How to get the space you need and still present a professional office appearance while securing it after hours? Several options are viable. You may want to consider a counter with sliding windows or a pull down locking apparatus. Or glass doors that lock, yet allow a view of both areas.
Part of your decision hinges on the type of community you manage. Is it a new development? If so, you are going to have a lot of traffic, a fairly large number of applications, and a counter may not work for you. If it is a filled community where your traffic is mostly current residents and a few new ones, you may be fine with the counter-type operation.
Another part of your decision must take into account the size of your community. How many homesites? How much traffic? How many residents put their rent payments in the night drop and how many pay in person? Traffic flow in and out the door must be part of what you take into consideration. Will the traffic be directed through the area where activities are taking place? If so, how much of an interruption will that cause? How many activities generally take place during office hours?
Will you allow the clubhouse to be used after office hours? If so, who will be responsible for locking it up when everyone is gone? Do you plan to have a separate user agreement to be signed when a resident uses the clubhouse for a private event? Do you plan to take a deposit? Will you charge for the use of the facility?
As you go through the thought processes of developing a clubhouse, also ask yourself what types of equipment your residents will want and use. A pool table? A ping-pong table? Tables and chairs for cards? A kiln and ceramics room?
Visit other communities in your area and talk with the managers. How does their layout work for them? What would they do differently if they could? Do their residents use it? For what? Do they have a user agreement?
Before you make a large investment in building or remodeling, be sure you have a clear picture of the areas mentioned above and how they will mesh together. And, if you have plans and want an opinion before you proceed, mail them to me at 3003 Honeoye Trail, Lakeland, FL 33810-0638, for a free review.