Twelve Weeks Later

Back in January I did some comparison shopping among the major downtown Harrisburg apartment complexes.  I wound up signing a lease for a medium-sized (about 800 square feet) one-Bedroom in Executive House and moved in February first.  It didn’t take long for me to realize I made the right choice.

For starters, we received approximately 4000 feet of snow several days after I moved.  Thanks to my garage, I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to dig out my car.  And EH’s inferno-like heat meant I actually wound up leaving my heat off most of the time — even when it was in the single digits outside.

Despite the building having around 200 apartments, I don’t hear my neighbors and they don’t hear me.  When I lived here previously, this place always felt like it was built during the last of the “overbuild it” era and before the “as cheap as possible” era.  The water pressure is so high, taking a shower is like standing in front of a fire hose.  Even way up on my floor, scalding hot water arrives within seconds of opening the faucet.

But despite being awesome, my apartment isn’t flawless.  The biggest problem is that the same HVAC system that keeps my apartment toasty in the winter and chilly in the summer just so happens to be located directly outside my balcony.  It’s barely audible with the sliding door closed.  But if I open it even a crack, the noise drowns out my TV.  It’s a high-pitched turbine-sounding whine that is audible for a few blocks in any direction — you’ve heard it if you’ve ever walked near the hospital or Crowne Plaza.  Fortunately, with all the windows shut it’s quiet enough that I can tune it out (the one time it shut down due to the widespread flooding and power outages a few months ago, the deafening silence actually woke me up).

Last week I spoke with the building manager about the issue.  In reality, they’re not obligated to do anything about the noise.  It is what it is.  Shame on me for not thinking about it when I first checked the place out.  But the staff here has always gone above and beyond on the few occasions I’ve needed them, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Lo and behold, two more apartments had just opened up.  And coincidentally, one was the exact same floorplan as I had when I first moved in back in ’99.  The other was the same floorplan I had when I upgraded back in ’04.  In other words, the two biggest apartments in the building (save for the two “hidden” custom apartments, but those are out of my price range anyway).  The first apartment, up on the 10th floor, is part of the building’s “historic district”.

This place was built in 1966.  Originally, floors 10-14 were apartments, and floors L-9 were offices and retail space.  Starting in 1989, the building underwent a complete top-to-bottom multi-year renovation (this is why the hallways and lobby look decidedly 80s-corporate).  The apartments were completely remodeled, and the apartment-level floorplan was duplicated all the way down to the 4th floor (floors L-3 are still office space).  The end result is that apartments on the 10th floor and up have very slight cosmetic differences:  Things like lighting fixtures, closet doors, and even the hallways are almost — but not exactly — like there rest of the building.  In some cases the retrofits are obvious (like metal raceways for cable runs), but most are only apparent to those of us who nitpick.  For 99% of the potential tenants, the differences are moot, if they’re even noticed.

The second apartment is one of the “newer” ones and is considerably larger (about 1000 square feet).  With a walkthrough kitchen, a den, a “library”, and about double the storage space of my current apartment, it’s significantly bigger.  Problem is, it’s only one story up from mine and on the same end of the building — not far enough to negate the HVAC noise.

They offered me the first apartment, which has a slight size increase, for the same price as I’m paying now.  The second apartment would run an extra $60 / month.  Well worth it for the improved layout and additional space, but it wouldn’t address the noise issue.

So just as I was going down to the lease office to sign the paperwork for the 10th-floor apartment, the building manager told me that due to unfortunate circumstances, another one of the “den” apartments had opened on a much higher floor.  Would this be high enough to negate the noise?  Could this be my dream apartment?  Would this place, in effect, kick enough ass to be the new floor9 world headquaters?  I took the key, toured the apartment, and arrived at my conclusion:

Yes.

It’s in the “historic district”, making it higher up than anything I’ve ever had before.  It just received (this week) brand-new carpet and light fixtures.  I can still hear the whine of the HVAC below, sure — but it’s volume has been reduced such that it blends into that low, distant roar that is the urban soundtrack that us city-dwellers grow accustomed to.  And although the view I have now is decent enough, the view from my new pad is a massive upgrade.

The only catch is that the apartment is open right now.  I’ll need to move ASAP.  So at some point within the next week, I’ll be making a 200-foot move and vacating my current apartment barely four months after moving in.  The building manager is letting me do this without any penalty or lease shenanigans, so I’d like to help out by getting this — my present apartment — leased out as quickly as possible.  If you know anyone looking for an excellent corner apartment in downtown Harrisburg with parking and all utilities included — and who doesn’t mind a little noise — let me know!