Why I Left the Granary

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The exterior of the GranaryThe exterior of the Granary

The exterior of the Granary

After living there for two years, I recently moved out of the Granary and into a more central location in Center City.

And let me just say at the start, that of the 11 places I’ve lived in Philadelphia during the last 36 years, the Granary is my second favorite (the first being the house in Wissahickon where I lived for 12 years).

But I value peace and quiet above just about everything else in a residence, as I told the leasing agent two years ago when he was showing me the place, and in the last year the Granary has let me down in that area.

The first problem was the gym; specifically the gym bunnies who dropped the weights on the gym floor producing a thud, a thud that I could hear all too clearly in my apartment two floors above. Even if they let the weights down easily and only dropped them that final inch, the sound would reach my apartment. Because the thud sounded like it was coming from the apartment above mine, I initially thought it was coming from that fellow, but when he moved out last year and I was still hearing the thuds, an investigation revealed the actual source of the sounds.

Without going into details, I’ll just say that I was disappointed with the Granary’s response to the problem, as it took over six months for them to act decisively to reduce the frequency of the thuds. They never eliminated them completely; two weeks before my move-out, I was awakened by a thud just after falling asleep.

I probably could have lived with that problem had it been the only source of aural irritation, but a year ago a new neighbor moved in above me; someone who, like me, is usually at home during the day. While I don’t think he was doing anything wrong, nevertheless the hardwood floors transmitted a lot of his movements and furniture rearrangements, etc., etc. Every few weeks he had someone come in, apparently to give the place a thorough cleaning lasting about three hours, and making a lot of noise in the process. Most of those sounds were not particularly loud, but the frequency of them definitely got on my nerves. And I’d really like to know what he did to produce the sound that I called the “slowly bouncing marble”.

Add to that the occasional maintenance noises (like the full week of hammering when an apartment’s hardwood floor has to be replaced), the residents (mostly of the younger persuasion) who routinely slam their doors, and the apartment where the dog sometimes barks just a bit too long (like 15 minutes)—and I wasn’t able to get the peace that I wanted.

Needless to say, someone who doesn’t require peace and quiet, say someone who usually has music playing or the TV on, probably wouldn’t be bothered by those noises.

Here are some random observations on other aspects of the Granary experience.

The Granary staff: Excellent. Everyone—concierges, leasing agents, maintenance personnel, housekeeping staff, really everyone—is friendly and helpful. Alas, they tend not to stay very long. The day I moved out there was only one employee who was still there from the day I moved in. Most of the folks moved on to other properties that Greystar manages, and good for them, as in most cases those were promotions. But Greystar seems to treat the Granary as a training ground for its other properties and doesn’t give residents the continuity of service that one can get by establishing trust relationships with concierges and other staff members.

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The spiral staircase in the Granary lobbyThe spiral staircase in the Granary lobby

The spiral staircase in the Granary lobby

The elevators: Possibly the slowest in the city. This never bothered me because I lived on the fourth floor and always took the stairs. Great exercise. There are three elevators and two call buttons, as only one of the elevators goes to the basement parking garage it gets its own button, but because the elevators are so slow, most folks, including many employees, always press both buttons, which only exacerbates the slowness.

HVAC: Excellent. Unlike many apartments in this city, the heating and cooling are controlled by a thermostat, so it’s simple to keep one’s apartment comfortable. Moreover, because of energy efficient equipment and excellent insulation, the monthly electric bills are probably the lowest I’ve ever had in Philadelphia, running between $50 during mild months to maybe $60 or $70 during the summer. Contrast that with my previous residence, One Franklin Town, where my monthly bills often reached $200. So excellent HVAC, excellent insulation, and excellent energy efficient equipment, including the appliances.

Appliances: Mixed. Yes, they are energy efficient, but otherwise there’s not much to be said for them. The washer and dryer are fine, as is the refrigerator (though the ice cubes from the ice-maker tend to fly all over the place), but the electric range and dishwasher lack many features. Not what I would expect from so-called “luxury” apartments, a term that is way too frequently used these days.

Lobby: Excellent. And I loved the spiral staircase. So exercise wasn’t the only reason I always took the stairs. There’s a grand piano on the second floor and lots of space and rooms for entertaining.

Fire alarms: Way too many! When someone sets off the fire alarm, which happened about 12 times during my two year stay, loudspeakers in both the bedroom and the living room blast out a loud alarm and a voice repeatedly warning to evacuate the building. This goes on for about 20 minutes until the fire department can get there to verify that it’s a false alarm. The cause can be anything; perhaps smoke from the oven getting into the hallway when the stupid resident opens the door rather than the window; a stupid resident mistaking the fire alarm for a light switch (yes, that was the explanation I was given one time); a stupid employee in one of the retail outlets on the first floor playing with the alarm switch. When one lives in an apartment building, one is sometimes at the mercy of the dimmest residents.

Residents: Mixed. Like every apartment building where I’ve lived, there are some pleasant, friendly people and some who aren’t so friendly. I think there is a larger percentage of less friendly residents than I’ve usually encountered (and I’m not the only one who feels that way), but your mileage may vary.

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I was able to see some glorious sunsets at the GranaryI was able to see some glorious sunsets at the Granary

I was able to see some glorious sunsets at the Granary

Dogs: The Granary prides itself on allowing dogs, and most of the human/dog partnerships are considerate of others. But there are a few that aren’t. If you don’t like dogs, the Granary is not the place for you.

Noise: Mixed. The windows insulate the apartments from outside noises very effectively. Because of the weird ways that sound travels in that building some apartments (probably relatively few) can hear the thuds from the gym. The hardwood floors allow more noise to get through than carpeted ones would, but that is very dependent on factors such as your neighbors and your noise tolerance.

Rent: As the old joke goes, if you have to ask the cost, the Granary is probably not for you. Yes, the rents are high. When I moved in, the rent was at the limit of my comfort level, and the increase after the first year pushed it beyond. But the part time job that fell into my lap a few months ago, eliminated any concerns I had about the rent.

As I said at the start, if the Granary had been able to satisfy my need for a quiet living space, I’d still be there.

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