Many people driving up Ashford-Dunwoody Road past Dunwoody’s Perimeter Mall and the Park Place Merchant Center in Dunwoody, GA, are unaware of large apartment complexes with hundreds of units just to their east.

Perimeter Parkway East, a broad u-shaped boulevard pictured above at the intersection with Perimeter Lofts Circle, is lined with a mixture of well landscaped apartment complexes and office parks.

The Drexel Collective is an assembly of three complexes – the Heights, Drexel, and Lofts. The sign located behind the green utility box describes Drexel as luxury apartment living. Greystar Management markets the Drexel Collective as luxury apartment living at its finest.

Google defines luxury as the state of great comfort and extravagant living. Today it translates as exclusive and superior in quality. Luxury is achieved by adding inputs of value until a standard is realized.

Key questions: What part does basic maintenance play in rating luxury? Can emergency maintenance only really be considered true luxury apartment living? If maintenance is done randomly and poorly, do amenities make up for lack of it and still provide a luxury standard?

If rat feces appear most mornings for twenty months on a terrace and must be cleaned up, is the tenant experiencing luxury? If rats exist and maintenance is done poorly and sporadically, is not quality diminished and a claim of luxury questionable, or even bogus?

Is it luxury if a tenant, to rid their residence of rats, or fix broken things, must so regularly complain to Dunwoody’s Code Compliance officer that they come to operate on a first name basis?

Picture of rat feces found hundreds of times during past twenty months. My terrace is the lowest building access point for rats who use the patio as an outhouse.

The rat feces are often still fresh and soft and smear on the cement when brushing them off the terrace. The feces must then be scrubbed or scoured with soap and water exposing the renter to possible bacteria, germs or contaminants.

The rat urine left behind, unlike feces, sprays the cement and contaminates it. The Drexel needs to scrub and power-wash the terrace ASAP.

Maintenance is important for basic safety and sanitation – management is responsible for providing them. Regarding sanitation, Drexel has employed exterminators to stop the rats. Unfortunately, there have been repeated outbreaks; success has been elusive.

Regarding the matter of safety, tenants of the Arrive apartment complex that is adjacent to the Drexel complained for months to management that smells of gas permeated the property. The many residents’ warnings were ignored until the Sept. 17, 2021 explosion that injured four people and forced all tenants to vacate as of Oct. 31, 2021.

How and why did this explosion happen in a luxury apartment complex? What role did lack of maintenance play in this explosion? Doesn’t a gas leak qualify for emergency maintenance status and demand a prompt response?

The many lawyers lining up to sue Arrive suggests that maintenance was so dysfunctional that it imperiled tenants’ safety.

I moved to the Lofts nine years ago when the property was owned by Worthen Realty who provided excellent maintenance and true luxury living. I and my friends when hanging around the pool in summer felt like we were living in a resort and all loved the place until new management took over a few years ago.

Under Worthen, all work orders were responded to quickly, often in just thirty minutes. This included changing light bulbs, cleaning out clogs in sinks, and repairing appliances.

For Greystar to service lighting fixtures, clogs and appliance repairs in a similar manner, and without the tenant having a direct Code Compliance connection, the renter must be ready to start hounding or shaming them into action.

Most apartment complexes in Perimeter East the past five years have been bought and rebranded by large realty companies expecting yields of 18 to 30%. The realty company probably paid a height of market price for the Drexel property and has to get their investment back and then some.

So, they raise rents and cut maintenance. A neighbor recently knocked on my door to inform me that she’d received a $342 monthly rent increase, approximately 20%.

Why is her rent being drastically raised when residential value to her is being algorithmically reduced? Everything to her except landscaping is being incrementally subtracted.

Arrive was an extreme example of cutting maintenance costs that literally blew up in management’s face, pun intended. Is the Drexel, with emergency maintenance and rats, truly safe? Are we possibly the next Arrive?

I hope not but you be the judge.

Welcome to the Drexel Collective, luxury living with emergency maintenance only.

A visitor driving on Perimeter Parkway East past its wide tree-lined median should make a left onto Perimeter Lofts Circle and head down the street towards the entrance. A growing Montessori / IB Endeavor High School is on the immediate right.

Drexel Collective visitors are greeted by attractive landscaping that is regularly maintained. One perceives attractive landscaping as an important fixed cost of doing business in the apartment rental market today.

Why has landscaping apparently become much more important than maintenance? Is it appropriate, even safe to cut maintenance to increase profit – see Arrive? Should there be firm regulations and strong laws against this?

A Dunwoody Code Compliance officer explained to me that few meaningful regulations exist. The laws are so weak, fines so minimal, that lawyers for code-breaking companies pay them and laugh. It is cheaper to hire a lawyer and pay the fine than it is to improve maintenance to basic levels.

One hopes that the Arrive complex explosion will move the Mayor and Council to strengthen code enforcement ability ASAP. Reforms such as having at least one maintenance person per one hundred units, setting a basic maintenance standard, and imposing heavy fines to assure compliance are steps in the right direction.

Leasing office frontage with attractive landscaping.

The Arrive explosion received national news coverage – to some people Dunwoody is now known as that city where the apartment complex exploded. So many of my Facebook friends from across the country were worried about me that I was forced to mark myself safe from the explosion on my page.

Future Drexel residents view a pretty fountain and gardens as they park and enter the leasing office which is temporarily located in the Lofts while a permanent office is being constructed in the Drexel. The office was previously located in the Heights.

Under Worthen, each complex had its own leasing office and staff. Under Greystar, our leasing offices were cut from three to one.

Convenience and service for tenants were diminished and value reduced equivalently. Heights tenants are currently nearly two-tenths of a mile away; much of Drexel is about half of that. The new office will be a tenth of a mile away from me.

An important example of diminished value is the Lofts cool pool which is legendary for its size and unique design. The pool, with its cutouts and ledges, has famously facilitated countless friendships and good cheer between tenants since its opening.

Under Worthen, tenants enjoyed a South Beach Salt Water Pool that was delightful to swim or just stand in. Comfortable chairs, lounges, and even couches were provided and kept clean.

Under Greystar, the elegant South Beach pool became a big chlorinated tub. In August 2021, several bathers complained and salt was again added to the water, thank you. However, the same inadequate furniture remains and lends a shabby look to a very special place.

The first-place Drexel sales people usually take prospective tenants during the customary walk-through is for a stroll along the pool. If a supposedly smart realty company is promoting luxury, and the pool is a major asset, one might expect Greystar to dress the pool up to fullest advantage – like staging the selling of a house.

Please observe the Lofts pool in the following picture taken in recent past and compare the poolside furniture and overall ambience with the second pool photo showing current lounges, chairs and umbrellas.

Note the differences in furniture quality and ambience. Is Greystar planning to upgrade our pool’s ambience in the near future or are we simply poorer step-children and should be content with what we have?

Key question: Why do the Drexel and Heights, both with smaller nondescript pools that far fewer people are drawn to, have much newer and nicer pool furniture than the Lofts?

The Dog Park / Bark Park

Worthen, to encourage dog owners to have their pets go in one place for cleanliness, built an impressive dog park just across the driveway from my terrace. Unfortunately, some selfish Drexel tenants let their dogs go anywhere they want.

For what it’s worth, a fellow tenant and dog-owner shared that the latches on the park’s gate locks have been broken for several months allowing pets to get loose and run away from owners. Some people apparently stopped using the dog park because of this.

Metal fabricators repaired the latches last July 2021; perhaps the latches need to be regularly repaired like the wooden arms of the entry and exit gates that tenants appear to regularly hit and break. Regardless, dog feces randomly plopped in hallways, sidewalks, and parking lots is disgusting and a health hazard.

View of dog park

Limited Tour of the Neighborhood at Risk

A growing Montessori / Endeavor IB School was established in a low-rise office building across from the Drexel on Perimeter Lofts Circle.

The school is adjacent to a town home enclave and a multi-use trail. A new sidewalk, built during September 2021, now lines the road.

According to the city’s web site, construction on Dunwoody’s Perimeter Center East Park located across from the Drexel Collective is still in the design stage. But some site work preparation for the Existing Master Plan has started. A copy of the park’s master plan is provided and I predict that the new park will become a great asset to the area upon its completion.

The following picture was taken from the Montessori School’s lower drive way and shows a fifteen-foot-wide trail that has been cut through the strand of trees. One can also see an alcove they cut in the bottom-left part of the photo

The Park, an office complex, is located across Perimeter Parkway East from the Montessori School.

The Park, right before the Pandemic, announced and apparently later abandoned a plan to add four buildings, take current ones up to nine stories, and add limited retail and a small restaurant. Maybe the plan will be revisited after the hybrid work model sorts itself out.

The above picture shows the intersection of The Park office center and the multi-use trail between the Montessori School and a town home enclave. The broad medians lining Perimeter Parkway East lend a majestic quality.

The multi-use trail leads down to the bridge connecting Perimeter East and the Georgetown residential community.

A service shed that belonged to the previous office building owner was torn down by the city as a first step towards constructing Perimeter Center East Park.

After rounding the bend, the multi-use trail leads to the bridge.

The Dunwoody Parks and Recreation’s aerial view of the connector bridge and surrounding areas shows how walkability has been demonstrably improved by this investment in infrastructure.

Modest-sized schools of small fish can be seen swimming in North Nancy Creek on both sides of the bridge – this is the northern view.

The bridge leads to the peaceful Georgetown residential community and its tennis courts and swimming pool at the end of the road.

The multi-use trail is being extended to Chamblee-Dunwoody Road by being built in to the construction of service roads along I-285. The trail will connect Perimeter Center East Park with Georgetown, Pernoshal, and Brook Run parks.

For more information, please access www.arnoldheller.org/homepage/dunwoody-ga-2019-my-ten-favorite-places-around-town.html.

A Call for Action

Dunwoody’s government and the Georgia DOT have both heavily invested in infrastructure improvements and desirable amenities that are enhancing the neighborhood’s quality of life. However, undesirable maintenance practices by the apartment owners place these impressive efforts at-risk.

The poor maintenance practices that led to the Arrive explosion are a below the radar problem for all of us who live here. Pressure must be brought to bear on the Mayor and Council to protect the relatively safe and verdant Perimeter East neighborhood.

I have made a case that I am living something less than a luxury apartment experience despite paying a luxury level rent. I recently petitioned the Drexel to lower my rent by ten percent to show good faith that I have suffered a loss of value and to compensate me accordingly for my distress.

I urge all tenants living in Perimeter East apartment complexes, especially those properties claiming luxury status, to investigate whether they are receiving basic maintenance, or emergency maintenance, or even any maintenance at all. If you are unsatisfied and concerned, please complain to your leasing agent and Code Compliance officer and demand action.

My experience with the Code Compliance officers is that they are all very professional and responsive and want to be more effective. Let’s give them the empowerment and tools necessary to do their job better.

The risk to our community from giant, greedy realty companies must be recognized and their behavior modified. Civic action and pressure are required to force local government to finally regulate apartment complex maintenance practices.

Our safety and quality of life is threatened until strong regulations and fines are in place.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 678-382-6890

www.dunwoodyga.gov/government/city-council-mayor.html.

In conclusion, I urge Greystar to restore basic maintenance to Worthen-era standards. This cost should be less than the unnecessary stream of emails rewarding me with points I do not plan to use, surveys that I do not need to take, or scheduling of social events I will probably not attend.

Please replace my burned-out bulbs in thirty minutes again instead of providing tenants with a waffle breakfast. Come unclog my sink in an hour instead of surveying me about what social events I might favor.

Let’s trade-off those unnecessary things for old fashioned basic maintenance in a prompt manner. Please stop smiling at us and talking politely while pushing back our work order - that invites distrust and dissatisfaction.

I believe that leasing office employees want to do a great job. Greystar should free their employees to achieve that instead of tying their hands. The rest of the at-risk apartment complexes in the area should do the same.