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These D.C.-area apartments help residents bond with clubs for yoga, trivia and more

(Jason Hornick for Express)

Rebecca McCauley Rench, 30, and three residents from the 2M Street apartments in NoMa huddle around a colorful board game stacked with pastel tiles representing four of the founding fathers. They’re gearing up to reenact the Constitutional Convention.

“Is this fully competitive? Fully cooperative?” Rench asks of the game, which she’s never played before.

“Fully competitive,” says Mike Lichtenberg, 23, shuffling a deck of “delegates.” Even though they’re neighbors, a game of Founding Fathers is every man for himself.

At an adjacent table, Rench’s husband, Dave Rench McCauley, 31, and three other gamers are playing Castles of Mad King Ludwig, while farther down, a woman and two young boys sit down to play Sorry.

It’s a typical Thursday evening at 2M Street (2 M St. NE; 877-745-8551), where Rench organized her first game night about seven months ago. Now the group has its own Facebook page — and a growing bond.

“It’s allowed us to get to know a lot of people in the building,” Rench says. “We’re getting to become closer friends.”

When apartment communities facilitate game nights, book clubs, running groups and other clubs, the payoff for residents comes not just in having something fun to do after work, but in new friendships and closer ties to the complex.

Gossip and wine nights
At 2M, residents also have trivia night — which Lichtenberg plans — a book club, yoga, Zumba, kickball, a winter basketball league and “Scandal” viewing parties.

“We’re encouraging it at more and more properties,” says Holli Beckman, vice president of marketing at WC Smith (202-371-1220), 2M’s property management company. “It’s really a way to encourage residents to use the common spaces … and give them ideas of how.”

It’s also a great way to build relationships in a relaxed, organic way, she says.

“It’s awkward to just walk up to someone and start talking to them,” Beckman says. “If you have the venue of an event it makes it a little easier.”

Events like their Yappy Hours ­— for pet owners and dogs, naturally — can also help residents find trusted pet sitters in their building.

Katherine Fleming, 26, is a regular at 2M’s game night and the book club, which recently tackled the novels “All the Light We Cannot See” and “The Help.” “It’s really just a gossip and wine night,” she admits. “We’re lucky if half the ladies read the book.”

Penrose Square apartments (2501 9th Road South, Suite 100, Arlington, VA; 703-271-8009) in Arlington also hosts regular community events for residents, including an upcoming ’80s party. Ronald Edwards, resident relations coordinator at Penrose Square, thinks he might dress up as Prince.

The apartment uses an interactive web portal that residents can use to connect with their neighbors, plan events and reserve the clubhouse for get-togethers, Edwards says. “We also have different social interaction portals on that portal,” he says, such as to discuss books and movies, or to organize coffee meetups. “It’s like a chat room.”

Nicole Breslin-Romano, 33, who rents a two-bedroom apartment at Penrose Square, has gotten to know her neighbors at social events like the building’s Super Bowl party. She also organized a mixer for singles in the complex.

“I love living alone,” she says, “but it’s also nice to have that community environment.”

Sky’s the limit
At many apartment buildings, social events and clubs are coordinated by a concierge company, which also provides the front-desk staff, handles maintenance requests and manages package pickup.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the types of events and clubs the concierge can organize, says Lynda Ellis, CEO of Capitol Concierge (6110 Executive Blvd, Suite 1000, Rockville, MD; 202-223-4765). “At one of our properties, we were coordinating to see if people would be interested in skydiving,” she says. “It really depends on what people are interested in.”

Building relationships with your neighbors is not just fun, but can foster a sense of safety, Ellis says. When residents know each other, they know who doesn’t belong in the building, and they look out for each other.

“It builds a community within the community,” she says.

More about renting in D.C.:

The pros and cons of living in an apartment building frequented by college students

The key to finding a random roommate you’ll love to live with

Want to start a tenant association? Here’s what you need to know first.