Case Study: Resource Residential’s Dive-In Theater Is a New Way to Build Community

Major shifts that occurred after the economic downturn, prompted Philadelphia-based property management company Resource Residential to do something different for its communities

(NOTE FROM MHN: Email us photos of your poolside or other outdoor areas and we will publish the ones we like best.)

By Anuradha Kher, Online News Editor

Major shifts that occurred after the economic downturn, prompted Philadelphia-based property management company Resource Residential to do something different for its communities. And so it was a year ago that the company introduced dive-in theatres at all 52 of its properties, right from Portland, Maine to Los Angeles.

“Everyone was beginning to cut back on their frivolous spending—going out for movies etc. so I was looking for a way to provide something different to our residents and also try to build a better sense of community that includes the whole family,” Harlan Krichman, president Resource Residential, tells MHN.

The salt-water swimming pools at Resource Residential’s properties provided an excellent location for the inflatable screens. “If we could find an outdoor movie system, we could turn our swimming pools into dive-in theaters! And, quite frankly, no one else was doing this,” says Krichman. He says the inflatable screens also provided a great way to utilize the pools. “It shows off our pools and brings people together. Building a sense of community is important to us because if our residents are happy in their community, they will make friends and start to build bonds.” The movies are family friendly so the whole family can come out for the event. “They bring their rafts and sit in their tubes while watching the movie,” he adds.

The area next to the swimming pool is mainly where Resource Residential screens the movies and sporting events. But on occasion—in case of Sunday morning cartoon shows for example—the screens will be set up indoors. “It has to be dark for the visuals to be visible on the screen, so it needs to be indoors sometimes,” explains Krichman.

Krichman purchased Open Air Cinema’s CineBox systems for each of the Resource Residential properties last year. The system includes a giant 12’X7’ screen, which inflates in seconds, along with a digital projector, speakers, mixer and DVD player. “The open air cinema product sets up very easily. You can pack up the whole thing in three boxes,” he says. This feature also allows the company to use the inflatable screens to promote its properties and amenities. “Some of our properties are near college campuses. We can take the screens there and sponsor a free movie night, where we include a five-minute piece on our apartment community and what sets us apart. Also, during our weekly movie nights, as well as a college movie event, we get local stores and businesses to participate in sponsorships of the movie night to provide some revenue that can help offset any costs that may come along with the program. This helps spread the word about other businesses in the broader community,” says Krichman.

Feedback to the dive-theatres has been positive, but it’s not just the residents who have appreciate the dive-in events, the employees like it too. “When they see the reaction of a resident, they become excited about it as well,” says Krichman. The company is now working on having a dive-in event weekly.

He concludes, “We haven’t had people moving in just for the dive-in theater per se, but people do come in and say they have heard about how great a community this is—people know each other and you have community events. It is the combination of the pool and the theater that attracts a lot of prospective renters.”

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