I’ve spent the past few days looking at Harrisburg apartments. My criteria have been pretty straightforward from the beginning:
- Anywhere downtown or midtown, within a half mile of Restaurant Row, Riverfront Park, and the train station
- Mid-rise, hi-rise, or townhome
- Less than $1,000 / month after parking, utilities, and rent
At 20 stories, Towne House is the second-tallest residential hirise in Harrisburg. It was built in 1961 and was formerly a mixture of hotel rooms and apartments. Today the hotel rooms have been converted into studios and the building is entirely residential.
Towne House is located at Sixth and Boas. If you’ve ever been to Jackson House and looked across the street at those god-awful yellow balconies, you’ve seen Towne House. It’s in a weird flux of being somewhere between midtown and uptown, without really being in either. But being only .4 mile from Restaurant Row, a quick stroll across the capitol complex from the train station, and a few blocks from everything in midtown, it’s still within my target geographic area.
One of the interesting things about Towne House is that they have multiple floorplans for each type of apartment. I’m not just talking about moving the closet across the hallway or flipping the layout; there are no less than three studio layouts, four one-bedroom layouts, and three two-bedroom layouts. And their odd “T” shape means that there are plenty of corner apartments to be had.
I met with Marsha, their leasing agent, after work. Her day was supposed to be finished at 5:45, but she was happy to stick around well past 6 helping me out. Although she wasn’t as well-versed on the building’s history as Ann from Grayco, she was able to answer all of the important questions and most of the dumb ones.
The first thing that struck me about Towne House was the number of people loitering in the lobby. I don’t know if they were waiting for rides or had nowhere else to go, but it struck me as unusual.
Our first stop was a corner unit up on the 18th floor. I was floored the second I walked through the door — THIS is the apartment I’m getting! Being a corner unit, the apartment had double exposure with one set of windows facing north and the balcony facing east. A modest kitchen had a pass-through / breakfast bar to the living room, making the already-big room look even bigger and more open. The bedroom was adequate, with enough room for my king bed and some very basic shelving. The bathroom was an odd shade of 1960s pale blue tile.
As if the dramatically-large room wasn’t enough on its own, the balcony seemed almost perfect. Because of the odd shape of the building, it was sheltered on three sides, permitting usage on windy or rainy days. For added bonus points, there had to be at least 200 square feet of closet space in there.
I took a cursory look at a smaller one-bedroom, but the layout and square footage seemed too small for what I was after. Surprisingly, even their two-bedroom units — at over 1100 square feet — felt smaller than the 850-square-foot corner unit.
Layout is everything.
The hallways of the building looked hit or miss. On one hand, they were relatively bright compared to the other residential hi-rises, thanks to plenty of window exposure near the elevator landings. On the other hand, I noticed a significant amount of damage to the walls. Nothing structural, but it looks like the drywall had been repeatedly broken by dollies and moving carts over the years, and that they had just given up on trying to fix them.
No building is perfect, of course. But being the most expensive unit I’ve visited thus far, I was hoping for a little more polish.
Outdoor on-site parking is available for $40 / month.
The corner unit goes for $795 / month and includes everything but electric. Although very few complexes include electricity with your rent, it’s a convenience I’d like to have. Taking an educated guess about my electric usage, I’m estimating that my total cost with parking and electric would be around $915 / month. Still within my budget, but fast approaching the absolute upper limit.
I’m taking a break over the weekend, but Monday I’ll try and catch both Executive House and Old City Hall in one swoop. I’m signing a lease this coming week and moving in by the 25th, so it’s going to be a rush. Unfortunately for decision-making purposes, both Grayco and Towne House have their strong points. If Grayco had a dishwasher the issue would be done … but they don’t … and it isn’t.
(INTERESTING FACTOID: Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am an obsessive perfectionist when it comes to writing. As such these posts are several days behind reality. I wanted to point this out because Towne House’s leasing office closes at sundown on Friday. Since sundown on Friday was after 6, I didn’t want to get the leasing agent in any trouble. I actually viewed Towne House earlier this week.)