Among the biggest perks of living in an apartment or condo building are the sweet amenities — pools, recreational areas, gyms, outdoor barbecue pits, kiddie playrooms, tennis courts.
But since Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered all amenities in residential buildings closed on March 30 over concerns of the spread of the coronavirus, apartments and condos have started to feel too small, no matter the size. Even Jack Nicholson succumbed to cabin fever in “The Shining,” and he had an entire hotel at his disposal to roam.
To help ease self-isolation fever during the COVID-19 pandemic, Miami condo managers and government agencies are finding ways to keep tenants entertained and off each other’s nerves: Instagram happy hours, live follow-at-home Zumba classes, virtual museum tours.
Some condo dwellers are more immune to cabin fever than others. As an account executive for Lenovo, Neha Kapoor has long worked from home. She isn’t feeling as stir crazy as some of her neighbors at the Brickell Place condominium tower, where all the amenities — pool, gym, valet parking — are closed and only two people are allowed to ride in the elevator at the same time.
But Kapoor still needs to socialize like anyone else, so she partakes in weekly virtual happy hours Thursday afternoons with the other nine people from her sales team.
“You hear people’s dogs in the background and all kinds of things going on,” she said. “It’s a way of knowing other people are out there, because almost everyone in my building is hunkered down inside their apartments.”
As part of their happy hours, Kapoor said everyone had to come up with their own “quarantine drink.” Her contribution: The Cobri Bryant 19.
“It’s named after my favorite basketball player,” she said. “Co for corona, bri for Brickell and 19 for COVID-19. It’s just Roku gin and water.”
That spirit of fun creativity is the key to fostering community while respecting stay-at-home orders. The Miami Downtown Development Agency kicked off events designed to keep residents at home.
“The top priority for us is to keep residents safe,” said Christina Crespi, executive director of the Miami DDA.
The organization is hosting a variety of free events targeted to residents in the Arts & Entertainment community, Brickell and the Central Business District but open to anyone who registers on its website, Crespi said. Those include a Friday happy hour from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on its Instagram page. More than 500 viewers tuned in last week for a live event with DJ Fly Guy.
Also in the works: virtual art gallery tours, a book club and children’s programming and science experiments.
“We want to target all demographics in downtown,” Crespi said. “We want to provide any experience that someone would have walking around.”
At Pier 19 Residence on the Miami River, residents are encouraged to hone their Zen with live at-home Zumba and meditation classes. All they have to do is link to classes from the building’s weekly newsletter, said developer Lissette Calderon, founder of Neology Life.
Last week, Calderon also launched a weekly quarantine-and-chill, delivering a large pizza for each unit from Power Pizza. In future weeks she plans to order from other food and beverage providers, to spread the love to local firms.
Pier 19 will also host live music performances from a pool in the coming days.
“We’re hiring one of our residents to perform,” Calderon said.
At the 200 condos managed by KW Property Management and Consulting, residents also get a weekly newsletter with links to exercise courses from Orange Theory, virtual tours of national parks — think Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains — and family activities. In one game, kids are encouraged to write a letter to their favorite Disney character.
Easy access and simplicity are crucial to encouraging older residents to participate, said Katalina Cruz, KW’s managing director of operations.
“We’ve received good feedback. Some of these ideas may stick,” Cruz said.
But for some tower-bound families, virtual escapes aren’t enough. Some Miami real estate agents say they’re fielding calls from condo owners looking to switch to single-family homes. And some apartment renters are looking to pay to use the swimming pool at vacant homes listed for rent or sale.
“We are getting those phone calls from people who are totally in condos, they can’t use any of the amenities and they’re home with the kids,” said Carole Smith, vice president with Compass Realty.
Smith said she has one listing for a house with a pool and the asking rent is $15,000 a month — too much cash to plunk down just to give the kids some swim time.
That’s not all: Smith also got a call from someone whose grandson is a competitive junior tennis player but has nowhere to practice because courts are also shut down everywhere.
“They’re looking for someone who will rent them their tennis court,” Smith said. “I have one listing that has a tennis court and will put out feeler to her. They’re willing to pay. I don’t know that she would charge or just let them use it out of the goodness of her heart.
“I guess for a budding player, 90 days without practice is not good. They are certainly going to be six feet apart.”
Source: Miami Herald
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