Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Promises Unmet

Absolutely nothing has been done to expand the parking lot entrance on Broadway Street despite the fact that the Dutton Street entrance was blocked off well over a month ago. This just goes to show that management is chronically unable to keep promises. Unfortunately, this is a big issue and a safety issue. It is a flat-out dangerous process to attempt to leave or enter the parking lot since there are vehicles parked on either side of the entrance and visibility is often either inhibited or non-existent. Further, the traffic frequently backs up past the entrance, making ingress and egress all the more difficult. The city ought to ban parking on Broadway Street on the parking lot side. There is certainly not an overwhelming need for on-street parking there. Further, a dedicated right-turn lane would ease congestion on Broadway Street at the intersection with Dutton Street.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Exit Row

The latest fun-filled memo from management indicates that all "Emergency Exit" doors have been alarmed and residents are to enter and exit only through the main set of doors. There seems to be very little logic to this other than a desire to inconvenience residents, especially those who live on upper floors and far from the elevators. Many of the "other" doors are not even marked as "Emergency Exit" doors. This is just another instance of management further inconveniencing residents for little apparent reason.

By the way, yet another indication of management's lack of professionalism is their obvious poor grammar skills. For instance, each memo is addressed to "The Residence of 305 Dutton Street." I imagine that they don't intend to address the building itself, but rather the residents of the building. This is just another piece of the mural showing how unprofessional College Street Management is.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A Reprieve from Towing

Well, it looks like the recent change is paying off in a small way. The new property manager (as yet not officially announced to tenants) sent out a memo last week indicating that towing will be suspended for the month of May. Supposedly, this was done since they "are always looking to make improvements here in our community." It is nice to know that management realizes that no towing is an improvement, but there is hardly a track record of making improvements. However, it would be nice if this is the start of good things.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I'm not the only one...

...who gets fed up with 305 Dutton Street and College Street, LLC. Check out the minutes from recent City of Lowell Historical Board meetings:

These people have tried to get around their unprofessionalism by offering excuses upon excuses but the Lowell Historical Board has called them on it and I am going to do the same here for as long as it continues. Management has blamed the board in some cases for slowdowns in getting things done, but the minutes of the board meetings really expose who is incompetent. I have no problem calling College Street incompetent because it seems that they have continuous turnover and seem to only hire incompetent workers. In one meeting, the College Street representative blames delays on the fact they terminated one of the people involved with the projects. That particular occasion left only the Jackson Street project manager to speak to both the Jackson Street project and 305 Dutton. It appears that College Street is more interested in the Jackson Street project than in completing the 305 Dutton project. This just goes to show how little they care about current residents.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

...and then the floods came

As the days of constant rain are finally coming to an end, it would be impossible to ignore the ridiculous ongoing leaking of water into the lobby and elsewhere on the first floor of the building. Throughout Sunday and Monday (the days of the hardest rain from the Nor'easter) there was water continuously pouring into the entry and lobby area of the building. This was not simply moisture creeping in, but a steady flow of water. This is a testament to the poor planning of the initial reconditioning of the building and the utter inability of management to do anything useful to counteract the leak. This has clearly been a known problem over the years and yet nothing has been done, despite water leaking in all over the parking-lot side of the first floor. The "renovations" last Fall that only left the parking lot in worse condition clearly did nothing to solve the problem. It appears that more drains were installed, but nothing was done to re-grade the parking lot and water will continue to flow into the building until the whole area is re-graded. However, that costs money and management is clearly uninterested in spending money for the greater good of the building, even if it would be money well-spent.

As a resident, I am embarassed to be associated with such incompetence. If I were the property manager, I would demand that the problem be fixed or I else I would simply leave. How can one expect to rent out units when there is obviously a major problem with the structure of the building? There is no good explanation for water flowing through a hole in the foundation of the building.

Speaking of management, we residents have not been informed that there is a new property manager. This utterly ridiculous and just goes to show that management cares nothing about its relationship with residents and has no communication skills. If they were children, they would be held back in adults, they are slowly wasting away a multi-million dollar investment. Eventually, the problems will have to be fixed or no one will rent in the building.

If you are a prospective renter, I would recommend that you think long and hard about possibly renting at 305 Dutton Street. When I was looking into it, I saw a few complaints but decided that I could live with some things and that others did not apply to my particular unit. Sadly, it has been my experience that nothing has gotten better in my time here. Rather, existing amenities were limited or removed altogether and the overall atmosphere of the building has rapidly declined. I do not expect this to change at all.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The best-laid plans...

There is a nice "new" site plan for the 305 Dutton property that includes a drastically different plan for the parking lot. There would be parking along the long side of the building and then two more rows of parking. There would also be an opening into the American Textile History Museum / Lowell Sun parking lot. It also confirms my earlier suspicion that Worthen Street formerly ran through the existing parking lot and behind the Sun building, probably going through to Fletcher Street. Unfortunately, there's always a ridiculously sad, head-shaking aspect to any positive thing about this apartment building. The site plan dates to 2004. That just goes to show that there is a great deal of talk, but very little follow-through for this property. As with everything, particularly in terms of marketing statements, let the buyer beware.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Change on the horizon?

There has been someone else present with the property manager at the lobby desk for most of this week and given comments I've overheard, it seems like we may be in for another property manager. Considering the up-and-down history of property managers here, I'm not sure whether to be optimistic or apprehensive. I can only hope for the best but expect the worst, I suppose. Unfortunately, my experiences here have left me no other choice. It will be interesting to see whether this even gets announced at all, or whether there will simply be a new face at the desk one day.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Gym Fiasco

The ruination of the gym/training room is one element of the 305 Dutton Street saga that has been left out thus far. Upon first moving into the complex, the gym was a very bright spot in choosing this complex. I am not a “hard core” trainer, however, I do enjoy an occasional run or weight-lifting to keep toned and in shape. Considering that 305 Dutton Street is on the higher end of the rent-spectrum for Lowell, it seemed like a perk worth a little extra in rent.

It must have been late fall when the well-meaning building manager decided to “upgrade” the two TVs in the gym. The other two were fine, as far as I was concerned. They were tubes and probably about 24 inches. It’s just a gym and for what they were used for, it was fine.

One day I walked into the gym and noticed construction on two walls. By the end of the day, the older TVs were removed and replaced by brand-new 30 inch, wall-mounted wide-screens. I remember saying, “Well, that’s nice. But I think I would have preferred if they replaced some of the old, squeaking gym equipment rather than spending money on TVs.”

Begin Fiasco

Within the very same week of the new TV installation, I went into the gym and one was gone from the wall. Upon closer inspection, it looked like the cable had been clipped and it was off the wall. Apparently, someone had STOLEN the brand new flat-screen. In one week we’d gone from two old TVs in the gym to two brand new TVs in the gym to now only one TV in the gym. My question is, At this point, why was the old TV not put up to replace the stolen one?

Then, a month later, we were given one of our lovely memos that the gym would be locked at all times and to use it, one must obtain a key from the “security guard” or “building manager.” While this works fairly tolerably for evenings, it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to obtain the key for the gym between 7AM-9AM, which is a great work-out time before leaving for work.

Then, a month or so later, the second flat-screen was removed from the gym (I don’t know if this was building management or yet another internal theft in our building). Now the gym is just difficult to access and without TV. Frankly, I’m not into working out while staring at my reflection in the mirror or making small talk with the person on the next machine. I don’t know why the other smaller, original TVs (obviously less enticing to our burglars) were not put up to replace the waste-of-money that were the new flat-screens. Seems like yet another example of building management missing the mark.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Time is ticking away...

So April (March 31st, actually) has brought us yet another "duh" notice with regard to parking. Signs have been posted informing all comers that visitor parking passes expire at midnight of the expiration date. This is common sense, I would think, but someone must have complained or else there wouldn't have been a notice.

What is not common sense, though, is the entire visitor parking pass policy. It is outrageous and insulting that Lowell Sun employees are allowed to park with impunity and yet 305 Dutton Street residents (and their visitors) are forced to jump through hoops to get a parking pass that mercifully removes the threat of towing.

There ought to be a consistent towing policy in place. If there is going to be a refusal to stop dating visitor parking passes, then there should simply be no towing Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM through 6:00 PM, which is when Lowell Sun employees are "allowed to" park in our lot. Even this time-frame is a joke, since it is repeatedly flaunted by Sun employees arriving early and staying late. Additionally, I saw at least one Sun employee vehicle in our lot this past Saturday. Again I ask: where is the towing?!?

Friday, March 30, 2007

No quick sand removal

It's been two weeks now since the last snowstorm and the parking lot is still awash with sand. Sometimes I wonder if management just hopes that either problems will disappear on their own or that residents will give up hope of ever having them fixed. That seems to be the attitude toward the sand in the parking lot which has been whipped up by recent high winds and made walking through the parking lot a messy and painful experience with sand being blown in your face. I would hope for a heavy rain to wash some of it away, but the rain would only leak into the building and cause more problems on the ground level, so that is probably not the best thing to wish for :-P

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Electric Slip & Slide

I think the following graph of my recent electricity bills speaks for itself:

Electric heat is not cheap...and this was not even a particularly cold winter.

Holes, more or less

The pothole at the (currently) only parking lot entrance was filled in yesterday, so that was a good sign. However, there are still many, many other rough spots and potholes throughout the parking lot, mostly thanks to the shoddy paving job done at the end of last Fall. Many soft spots opened up at the beginning of March and now the pavement is simply beginning to crumble and disintigrate in these locations, mostly in the through-traffic area in front of the building.

The property manager claims that she was completely caught off-guard by the Jersey barriers going up Tuesday. Even though she apologized, she still tried to shunt the blame. The fact remains that just because you were caught off-guard does not mean that you weren't at fault. She should have kept better tabs on when the Jersey barriers would be put in place. Additionally, she knew about the fact that they were coming beforehand. She made no effort to inform residents that this change would be taking place. I would have appreciated some information that the change was coming, even if told that it would be at an unknown time in the future. This is simply more evidence of a complete lack of professionalism on the part of the property manager. Ignorance is not an excuse, it is an indictment.

Finally, there does not seem to be any timetable for opening another parking lot entrance on the Broadway Street side of the parking lot. The property manager claims to be waiting to hear from the city but appears unmotivated to make the process happen as quickly as possible. The problem is that this is already overdue: it should have happened well before the other entrance was blocked off.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lions, tigers and Jersey barriers, oh my!

I returned home yesterday to find Jersey barriers blocking the southwest entrance to the parking lot, much to my disappointment. I usually exit the complex that way since the stoplight at Broadway and Dutton Street backs up past the Hellenic American Academy, blocking any egress from the Broadway Street exit. I understand that this was likely done in order to prevent through traffic from speeding through our parking lot to avoid the aforementioned stoplight, but this was done with absolutely no prior notice. Plus, management claims that they will open another entrance on Broadway Street, but they do not seem motivated to do this anytime soon, despite the large pothole in what is now our one and only entrance. Hopefully, they will get the city to ban parking along our side of Broadway Street so that we can safely go in and out of our parking lot. Right now, whenever you pull out, it is often a guessing game because of the cars parked on the street that block the drivers view of cars coming down the street.


This past winter has been relatively mild and that has most certainly been a good thing. Management handled the Valentine's Day snow reasonably well, but completely dropped the ball on the St. Patrick's Day snowfall. Snow began on Friday and ended early Saturday morning. The staff had been keeping up with the snow through most of Friday and into Friday night, but when I came outside Saturday morning, there was at least 6 inches of unplowed snow all over the parking lot. This situation persisted until 11:00 AM when the property manager and a plow finally arrived. She blamed the plow company for having one of their plows break overnight, but she should have been in a position to call in a back-up service to fill in. There are very few occassions when I would expect a property manager to be working through the night, but when there is a major snowfall that occurs overnight, that is one of the times. So the snow did not get plowed until very late and then she somehow failed to inform the driver where to plow the snow, since both pet areas managed to get completely plowed in with piles of snow that exceeded 6 feet. This forced pets to eliminate all throughout the parking lot. All that would have been required was (at most) five minutes of her instructing the plow driver to pile the snow elsewhere (there are plenty of side areas for snow to be placed). However, she completely dropped the ball on this one, which is surprising since she is a dog owner herself and since the snow was cleared appropriately after the Valentine's Day snowfall. Otherwise, though, the maintenance staff was proactive in asking any car owners who ventured into the parking lot to move their cars so that the plow could clear as much snow as possible from the main parking areas. This was the one positive in the midst of the snow fiasco.

The ugly

So there are good things and bad things with any apartment complex, but unfortunately things have only gotten ugly since I moved in. Here it is:

  • Towing - There is a tow truck driver who lives in the complex and he has a propensity for actively towing anyone who does not fall within the parking regulations (more on that soon). I have seen him watch people get out of their cars and go into the building and then immediately hook them up and tow them without even giving them the courtesy of reminding them that they need a parking permit.
  • Parking - When I first moved in, residents could obtain resident parking permits for their cars and then visitors parking permits for visitors whenever necessary. Since then, though, management has decided that visitors parking permits must be dated and will only be good for the dates indicated on the permit. Gone are the days of providing a permit to a dog walker, house cleaner or other frequent visitors (family and friends!). There was absolutely no good rationale for this since, as I stated earlier, there has never been a lack of parking. Visitors now must obtain a parking permit as soon as they step out of their cars or risk towing. Management claims a 24-hour security presence on-site, but this is a joke since the night security guard leaves promptly at 7:00 am and the property manager sometimes does not arrive until 9:00 am. Sadly, it seems as though the parking permit policy is intended only to make it more difficult for visitors to park and easier for the towing company to make more money. This leads one to the unfortunate conclusion that management is likely receiving kick-backs from the towing company for each vehicle towed. If anyone can give a better answer, I am willing to listen.
  • Lowell Sun - Our friends at the Lowell Sun have moved into the American Textile History Museum building next door and clearly did not plan for parking well since their employees now park in our lot. The memo from management indicates that this will be only between the hours of 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM Monday through Friday. However, I have seen Sun employees parking in our lot before 7:00 AM and leaving well after 7:00 PM on a regular basis. Where is the ravenous towing to which we (and our visitors) have been subjected? If Sun employees can park with what amount to permanent visitors passes (placards indicating that they are Lowell Sun employees), why can't 305 Dutton Street residents have the same privilege of permanent visitors parking passes (a "privilege" that we formerly enjoyed)?!?
  • Pets - I think that one of the greatest advantages of this building is its allowal of so many pets. However, it comes at a steep price. Management charges an illegal (in Massachusetts, at least) pet fee upon move-in (Mass. state law indicates that only the equivalent of one month's rent may be paid at move-in in addition to the first month's rent...since a security deposit of one month's rent is charged, that makes any other "fees" illegal). Management disavows any responsibility for messes that pets (usually dogs) make throughout the complex. They send many memos out when pet owners irresponsibly leave feces on the ground (or worse, in the hallway) and threaten to take away pet privileges. I am all for aggressively going after the irresponsible pet owners, but management should at least make a regular effort to clean up areas that are frequently marred by pet feces. One example is at the southwest corner of the property which is partly landscaped with mulch, trees and plants but has an enormous amount of dog feces. I am sure the "pet fee" could cover a once-monthly visit by a dog feces removal service. That area is simply disgusting and a huge black eye for the complex.
  • Management Attitude - Although the "on-site" property manager is friendly and reasonably accessible, the tone that she takes in her memorandums is decidedly unprofessional. Rather than informing residents and taking a community-friendly or cooperative tone, her memos exist solely to either inform residents when amenities are being taken away (such as permanent visitors passes and an entire entrance to the parking lot) or to threaten to remove further amenities (such as threatening pet owners with the elimination of pet privileges.

The bad

At first, there really weren't many obvious bad indications. The idea of heating and cooling a place with such high ceilings had me suspicious from the start. The thin walls take even less than a knock to detect. I should have guessed at the outside noise level in light of the location, but I didn't really even notice until after I had moved in.

The good

When I first began my apartment search, 305 Dutton looked like a great place: pet friendly, plenty of parking, super-convenient access to both downtown Lowell and the commuter rail station. All of that is still true to varying extents. There is a great deal of flexibility with regard to the number and kinds of dogs and pets allowed. There has never been a lack of parking, even when it snowed. The walk to downtown is easy and the walk to the commuter rail only takes about 15 minutes.

Beginnings and endings...

This blog is dedicated to my life as a resident of the 305 Dutton Street apartment complex in Lowell, MA. I hope to use it as a dynamic forum that will let me chronicle the ups and downs of 305 Dutton life easier than some comment outlet such as This can serve as a resource for people considering renting here and maybe even a forum for other residents. Even if I am the only one commenting, though, I feel like it will be worthwhile.