Are these Philly apartments too good to be true?
October 14, 2014 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Philadelphians: Are AIMCO-owned apartment complexes like The Sterling, Park Towne Place, and the Riverloft reliable places to live? Their location's hard to beat and they offer excellent amenities. They're poorly-reviewed on sites like Yelp and Google, but the things the reviewers complain about often strike me as trivial. How can I figure out if these places offer what I'm looking for? (Bonus points: have any of you lived in any of these locations yourselves?)

A little bit more about my own expectations:

— I have lived in Philadelphia before, and have dealt with loud construction noises (and worse; I used to live within the borders of OutFest).

— I've never lived in a place where I wasn't expected to deal with the occasional bug-or-mouse problem myself (this is one of the major complaints that reviewers have).

— Location, for me, is key; I'm trying to find someplace nearby the Schuykill River Trail that's also close enough to Trader Joe's that I could use it for my grocery shopping.

— I have dealt with all manner of annoying neighbor before.

My worry is that the Yelp reviews are coming from people at a different point in life than I'm at now, with a higher set of expectations, and that their reviews are set as low as they are because they want more out of their living spaces than I do. There aren't many places within my price range that are as well-located as AIMCO's three apartment complexes are, but places are available. In a lot of ways The Sterling and Park Towne seem perfect — I just lack the experience to know whether or not the reviews criticizing them are doing so because they're shitty places, or because they simply have less-than-luxurious aspects to them.

Does anybody have firsthand experience with living in these places? Are there ways I can figure out if they're really a place I would enjoy living? I'm a total n00b at all this stuff, sorry.
posted by rorgy to Grab Bag (8 answers total)
Apartment review sites are terrible and are plagued with nobody with very accurate, middle of road reviews. Those places are priced high for Philly, so I think you should pick which ones amenities and location is ideal for you.
posted by sandmanwv at 1:49 PM on October 14, 2014

People who are satisfied with their apartment generally don't leave Yelp reviews.
posted by theodolite at 1:53 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Caveat: I haven't lived in any of these buildings.

What everyone else is saying about only the angry people leaving reviews is very true, and I agree that a lot of the listed reviews seem to just be angry about the "luxury" part.

HOWEVER, I personally would be very concerned about the following recurrent issues, noted in reviews over multiple years:

-repeated elevator failure
-frequent cut-off of water service
-frequent generator failure/power outages.

Those seem like several notches above just picky yuppies wanting a seamless living experience. Now, if you're planning to live on a low-ish floor, and never be home during the day, etc., maybe it doesn't matter to you at all. But it would be enough to get me to steer clear.
posted by like_a_friend at 1:56 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure Park Towne Place meets your requirements. As the crow flies, it isn't far from TJ's and the Schuykill River Walk, but that part of the Parkway enrages me as a pedestrian because the streets are so wide, it's so hard to find a crosswalk, I CAN SEE THE SCHUYKILL RIVER WALK RIGHT THERE WHY THE HELL CAN'T I GET TO IT UGH NO ACCESS POINT HERE?
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:55 PM on October 14, 2014

I haven't lived in any of those places BUT I was a dogwalker in Philly for a while and one of my wards, a soft-coated wheaten terrier, lived in the Riverloft building, and I walked her twice a day, every day, in addition to occasionally staying with her overnight while her family was out. So I'm quite familiar with that building, and I have to say, I don't think it's worth the money*. They had a 1-bedroom loft and it was awkwardly laid out, felt cramped, and its one giant window somehow didn't make it feel any better. Also, while it is close to the Schuylkill river trail, I think that for that price range you could get a really nice apartment in one of the beautiful brownstones along Locust St., or on 23rd. I also walked a dog that lived right around the corner in an apartment on Locust and I thought it was much nicer- more windows, more interesting, and quieter location.

I don't know anything about the Sterling except that it one of the ugliest residential buildings in Center City.

Park Towne Place is also ugly, at least from the outside, but I've always been envious of what appear to be ample balconies. If you like that location, I recommend the apartments in the Board of Ed building (had yet another client in there)- beautiful Art Deco apartments with great views, and it's actually closer to Trader Joe's and has access to the river trail through a special crosswalk they put in (you have to wait if there's a train, though).

*I also just generally found it sterile and unwelcoming
posted by Aubergine at 3:05 PM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have a friend in Riverloft and the biggest complaint is the trains. We're not talking typical city noise here -- we're talking nightly 3am wake-ups from the freight trains blaring their horns as they pass right next to the building.

I can recommend 2400 Chestnut - I don't know their pricing, but I have a friend who lives there and loves it. If train horns bother you, choose a place on the Center City side of the building.
posted by DoubleLune at 3:13 PM on October 14, 2014

Lowish but not lowest floor. Remeber stuff FLOODED bad last spring.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 5:24 PM on October 14, 2014

rorgy: "Location, for me, is key; I'm trying to find someplace nearby the Schuykill River Trail that's also close enough to Trader Joe's that I could use it for my grocery shopping."

But the locations AREN'T as good as they look. They're sort of superficially good on a map...but these highrises are sort of weirdly removed and separate from the neighborhood, in my opinion.

Big buildings have big-building-sized maintenance issues. An occasional bug or mouse in a three-story rowhouse, meh, they get in, it happens. But in a large building, there's a lot more interior wall space for vermin to colonize, and so the volume of the situation and the inability to control it can feel a lot more frustrating.

Similar situation with noise, actually. It can be hard to tell where noises are even coming from because walls and pipes transmit and amplify sound weirdly, plus the greater anonymity gives people license to act more like they're in hotel rooms than in a home with shared walls.

The number of units in the building means that the relationship with management can be really impersonal and brusque. They don't care about keeping you as a tenant. People come and go. Wevs.

Being able to get your packages accepted by the front desk is awesome, though, I must say. Only thing I miss about a high-rise.
posted by desuetude at 10:45 PM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

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