Friday, February 27, 2015

I'm not in love with my apartment, but I guess I'll stay

I live in what you can call a high end apartment complex by Gainesville standards. It has the nice Victorian windows, the premium downtown location- which is close to shopping and restaurants but equally near to the city's homeless. The historic feel, although for my wheelchair it means more and more getting the front wheel stuck in the cobble road, the convince of many buses. You pay a hefty premium for the location- the walls are thin, the apartment may feel moldy at times, no utilities are included, the countertop finish feels and look cheap, but at least you can walk or wheel places. The complex is one of the most expensive in the Collier's portfolio and for years and years the rent went up. At least I could have said that I felt like, as much as I paid to be here, they cared for my tenant experience. I don't know what happened in the last year or two, and it's of course extremely subjective and some may find it unfair, but I don't think they care anymore. Maintenance crew used to pick up my trash from in front of my door- that was part of what the management agreed to do for me as I first moved there as I'd have to get over a step if I wanted to carry my garbage myself to the collection site. They stopped checking. The wheelchair ramp they built for me is now missing some bricks and makes it a bit harder to wheel over it. A few weeks ago I had my dishwasher unscrew itself from the cheaply made sponge like countertop that seems to expand with moist- tilt and fall on me a few times. I have not had a good run at this unit- which was supposed to be an upgrade. On day one I was faced with a dishwasher that had a dead motor. It was then replaced with what I can only describe as one of the cheapest appliances on the market. This may sound silly- but for weeks I regretted the switch as the one I left behind had a sanitize mode, while the new one often left my dishes wet and smelly. I know, you shouldn't make a decision about a move based on a dishwasher, but to me it's a good indicator of how much they valued me as a tenant. But what gets me the most is how the management tends to plan ever inspection- sprinklers, fire alarms, fire extinguisher- a day or two in advance as if it's something they could not have figured out with adequate notice. Don't people have jobs? In strikingly similar fashion they plan special events, typically designed to get you to renew your lease. I know, I know.... I don't have to be there, but then I don't like for strangers to be in my apartment- with my valuables, credit  cards, sensitive documents without be being there. I have more technical crew in my apartment now than I used to when I stayed at a "student living" property from the other end of the spectrum in Collier's portfolio- and they were allowed to inspect my bedroom over there every few weeks. Did I tell you about the things that don't work? During the Thanksgiving weekend I was stuck with a loud window unit as my AC gave out. It was a loud little machine that had a pipe you've put outside your window. The AC unit itself was so old that when it had a Freon leak it  had to be replaced and couldn't be fixed. Knowing my struggles with that, the management had the bright idea to schedule the replacement of the water sprinklers in my apartment the next day. Not only did I again- have strangers in my apartment three days in a row, that seemed to be surprised with everything they found in my AC closet or ceiling (how old can it be?), but after making a few holes they made a mess and  just left. I felt I shouldn't be the one to clean after them, to get on my knees from my wheelchair and clean the drywall off my kitchen floor, so I did insist they come back and clean it and they did- a week later. All of this - and not even an apology, not mention any kind of rent concession. I'm in a wheelchair- if you make a mess and just leave it, I will just track it on my wheels all over the place. Nobody seems to care- and that to me is the worst part. And  with rent going up every year and me growing more and more disenchanted with Arlington Square the time will come that the cost of being here will not be justified by the experience. It hardly is this year- but they make you decide by the end of February. Even though I don't like it, I will most likely renew my lease. Because I'm in a wheelchair and moving far is always a complication that I will avoid if I can. Getting people to help me, packing, unpacking. I didn't even have time to look for a suitable place. And for now, it still has some value for me to live Downtown. I'd say not for much longer though. But I doubt that anyone cares. They were too busy leaving renewal notices and candy at my doorstep to ask about my actual experiences.

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