Many tenants of the West Chester Commons were very relieved to see their concerns expressed in last week?s issue of The Quad. However, the management didn?t get to express their side of the story. As promised, the management was interviewed and gave their responses to the tenant?s complaints. After Part One was published in The Quad, the Commons management had the chance to hear what several tenants told The Quad, but never told the management themselves. Since having the opportunity to read the article,Community Manager MelissaGiarratano and Asset Manager for the Walters Group, who owns the West Chester Commons and the College Arms Apartments, Michael Abreu expressed their stance on the issues presented.
In response to the complaints of the late move-in date, Abreu said that he understood that the change in dates would affect some residents? work schedules. The residents that contacted the Commons management and told them that they had nowhere to live while they worked in the area for the first two weeks in August were put up in local hotels, such as the Microtel and the Holiday Inn. The management had no problem paying for the hotel stayof such residents if they contacted the management to let them know their issues.
Abreu stated that from the day they broke ground until the day the Commons opened covered a span of 11 months, which the management feels to be a very short period of time for a building as large and complex as the Commons. “There was a push to get everyone in here as quickly as possible,” Abreu said when asked about the unfinished apartments. The maintenance team didn?t have the time to go over every room with a fine-tooth comb, and that is why some of the rooms had small imperfections. None of the rooms, Abreu mentioned were “unlivable.”
As far as the tenants? initial move-in complaints? “They have been addressed,” he stated. “Granted, there were unfinished issues… we?ve made every effort to maintain communication with the tenants,” he said. With all of the incomplete projects the building faced at the move-in date, scratches or marks on the walls weren?t as crucial to repair as a lack of flooring on the first level. If any tenant still has an issue with their room, management and maintenance would be happy to address it. “We?re rapidly addressing the concerns the tenants have.
Where the lack of amenities is concerned, they are being installed on a day-to-day basis. A Philips flatscreen television was installed on the first floor across from the fitness center, several framed pictures were hung, modern furniture was placed inside the first floor study and lounging areas, the study lounges are useable and new patio furniture was put in just last week.
In the caf area near the elevator, an ATM was installed recently. The room adjacent to the caf will soon be turned into an area for students to use instead of the maintenance office it is at the present time.
As far as the food aspect of the caf area? Abreu stated that, “gourmet vending machines are cominginto the caf area.” These machines are to include a gourmet selection of coffee, dinner entrees and a variety of hoagies, straight from a machine.
“I solicit information from the residents,” Abreu noted when asked about the lack of sports courts. He said that the management was working on building a basketball court in the rear parking lot. Abreu and the management team are constantly asking the residents what type of amenities that they would like to see. A horseshoe pit and bocce court are also possibilities. Any suggestions are welcome at the leasing office at any time. They are also looking into putting chaise lounges outside by next year.
Bike racks are being placed at every entrance. The delay in the bike racks occurred because when tenants were asked to tell the management if they would be bringing their bikes, the tenants replied that they weren?t bringing bikes. After a couple tenants brought this issue up with the management, they ordered the racks.
The visitor parking signs are in the office; however, they are still awaiting the arrival of the correct sized posts to mount them on.
Abreu and Giarratano weren?t able to comment on the rate increase for next year, but Abreu did say that “we?re not here to take advantage of everybody.” He reiterated that while they were a business, they would keep the prices proportional to the rising cost of all real estate rates.
Security should also not be an issue for the tenants. Abreu corrected the statements of previous employees by assuring that the security cameras were actively being used and that they weren?t just there for intimidation purposes. There are currently 33 security cameras installed throughout the building, and more on order for places such as the stairwells.
The management is constantly updating security. The nightly security guards are going to have their own station right next to the elevator near the caf. Their station will include monitors to watch the activity in the building via the security cameras and other forms of equipment.
They are still not clear about what they are going to do as far as the locks on the tenants? doors are concerned.
The maintenance team is an asset to the management and the tenants. Budget Maintenance is more than willing to address any issue the tenants have in a timely manner. Maintenance cleans and sanitizes the fitness center everyday. There are also paper towel dispensers, trash cans and bottles of sanitizer on order for the residents? use in the fitness center.
The management has undergone some changes in the past few months, but it was all for the betterment of the facility. “We have the best property in West Chester. We want to have the best management as well,” Abreu stated. “The management of the building is going in the right direction. Maybe they [the old management] don?t follow the same philosophy as we do.”
While there is currently no permanent managing staff to operate the issues in the leasing office, Giarratano is acting as the operator of the office. She can address any issues that the former property managers could address.
Giarratano has heard nothing but “positive feedback from the students.” Abreu concurred and replied that they were “always looking to improve the property.” They urge the tenants to bring up any comments, complaints or suggestions that they may have. While it?s been a hectic start, the grounds are headed in the right direction. “We?re addressing the issues they have…it?s a process…it doesn?t happen overnight,” Abreu said.
The writer would like to apologize to any person who feels they were misquoted in the last article about the Commons posted in The Quad