Harrisburg Apartments, Day Four: Executive House

My downtown/midtown apartment hunting continued today with a visit to Executive House.  Executive House is a 14-story high-rise located at the corner of Chestnut and Second streets, directly across from Harrisburg Hospital and Crowne Plaza.  More likely than not, you drive past it every time you head downtown via 83.

Executive House is a 14-story hi-rise located at the corner of Second & Chestnut in downtown Harrisburg.  It was built in 1966 by Berger & Company out of Philadelphia.  Initially, the first nine floors were office space and floors 10 through 14 were residential apartments.  When the Rachael Carlson building opened, Executive House was heavily renovated.  The first three floors remain in use as commercial space, but floors four through 14 are residential studio & one-bedroom apartments.  Up until 2000, the building was decked out in 1960s institutional-white brick cladding.  In 2000 the building received an exterior “facelift”, during which they mercifully painted over that.

Executive House is a well-hidden gem of downtown living.  Honestly, from the outside, it’s not much to look at.  I blame the brushed-aluminum railings on the balconies (brushed aluminum doesn’t age well).  You’ve probably driven past it thousands of times and never noticed, or tuned it out as just another anonymous downtown hi-rise.  The lobby and hallways — with their dark carpeting, dark-stained birch trim, and brass fixtures — make it clear that the common areas were last renovated in 1980-something.  They aren’t exactly ugly, just somewhat dated.  I suspect this makes a lot of people ignore the building, which makes it all that more of a secret.

I met with Ann-Marie, Executive House’s building manager, and got a tour of the available apartments.  She knew the entire building and its history forwards and backwards, and made a point of making sure all my questions were answered.  I’m really big on customer service, so seeing attentive building management goes a long way towards compensating for any shortcomings a building may have.

Once you get past the hallways, the apartments are bright and open with tile bathrooms and a near-obscene quantity of electric outlets (this is a major deal in apartment living).  Like Towne House, Executive House has multiple floorplans for each style of apartment.  And also like Towne House, some of the apartments are pretty impressive when you first open the door.  Again, layout is everything.

The building shares a lot of characteristics with the other downtown / midtown properties I looked at.  Like The Grayco and Pennsylvania Place, Executive House is within easy walking distance of everything downtown and barely a half mile from midtown.  It’s two blocks from Privado, the Gingerbread Man, and Molly’s, and ABC is practically right around the corner.  Like The Grayco, Executive House includes all utilities — including electric — with their rent.  And like every other building I’ve toured, the view can range from great (watching fireworks over the river) to meh (looking at the boarded-up windows atop Crowne Plaza).

It does not, however, have the rooftop decks of The Grayco or Towne House.  Nor does it have The Grayco’s “Log Cabin” room (you just have to see that thing).

But that’s where the similarities end.  The building also has an attached four-level garage, with indoor reserved parking available for $60 / month.  All of the units have air conditioning by way of a closed-loop pressurized liquid (glycol?) system from a boiler / chiller the adjacent building.  It’s a unique but highly energy-efficient system.  And every apartment has its own semi-private balcony (as private as a balcony can be).

While I was touring the building, I didn’t hear any sound from the neighboring apartments on any floor.  This is a huge deal; the bane of apartment buildings is paper-thin walls.  I’m not sure, but either the interior walls at Executive House are insulated or the residents are just quiet.

What makes Executive House especially appealing, aside from the location and design, is the rent.  Executive House is currently the least-expensive hi-rise in Harrisburg, especially after adding in parking costs.

It’s hard to find anything to complain about.  I wouldn’t mind seeing the lobby redone or washer/dryer combos in every apartment, but then again, I wouldn’t really want to see the rent go up to cover the associated costs.  The best I can do is gripe about how the building looks from the outside (the aforementioned railings).  Short of replacing them all, I really can’t imagine what could be done to improve the look.  But if I had to find something to gripe about, that would be it.

My last remaining apartment building to check out is Old City Hall, which I will do tomorrow.  Then it’s crunch time – I need to make a decision, sign a lease, order new furniture, and be moved in by the 25th.