A rental’s littlest tenants


Aaralyn Liese, second from right, and daughter Athena, 5, right, watch trains from their building’s roof with neighbor Rafael Untalan, left, and his son Henry, 2. (Jason Hornick/For Express)

Aaralyn Liese prefers city life in a bustling high-rise to a quiet house in the suburbs. And she’s raising her daughter Athena Mills, 5, to feel the same way.

In the city, “Athena gets so much social interaction and gets to be exposed to so many different cultures and people,” says Liese, who rents an apartment for the two of them in The Loree Grand at Union Place (250 K St. NE; 866-308-6212) in NoMa.

While many families go the traditional house-with-a-white-picket-fence route, others are opting for apartments in a concrete jungle. With perks such as enhanced security, an abundance of baby sitters and a kickin’ social scene, it’s easy to see why.

For one: High-rises can help young families feel safe. The Loree Grand has controlled-access garages, key-fob-entry doors and a front-desk staff to screen visitors.

Such safety features helped motivate Jaime Perez, 35, and his wife, Celia Garcia Perez, 31, to move into The Summit at St. Martin’s Apartments (116 T St. NE; 202-526-0060) in April. When Perez, a telecommunications technician for the World Bank, is away from home, he feels reassured that his wife and 15-month-old daughter, Nayeli, are safe.

“My family’s protected,” he says.

Perez says he was surprised to find such a great spot for his family in the District.

“Most places you go in the city, you find apartments that are more upscale or for single life,” Perez says. “I didn’t think we’d find something that was more oriented towards family.”

But the Perez gang pinned the tail squarely on the donkey when they found The Summit, an affordable-housing property with rents that worked for the young family. Beyond the safety advantages, the building offers some fun perks for families.

For example, there are the community-sponsored parties to entertain the kids — a “School’s Out for the Summer” bash in the spring and a “Back to School” shindig late in the summer. There’s also a playground on the building’s roof.

Yes. A playground.

“No swings, because it is up on the rooftop,” Garcia Perez says, but there is “a seesaw, a climbing house and a fire-truck-type thing for kids to climb on.”

Just by spending time at such common areas as that playground, families can get to know one another with little effort.

“Where we live, there’s a big yard out back and a pool, so a lot of times you’ll see kids out there playing,” says Tammy Robinson.

She and her husband, Kenny, rent a two-bedroom near Clarendon at the Wentworth Place Condominiums (3515 Washington Blvd., Arlington; 703-525-6096) with their 3-year-old son, also named Kenny.

“It’s a very friendly building, and the people who have kids are always talking with each other,” she says.

Once the moms and dads become friends with other moms and dads, they tend to help one another out. This leads to conveniently located play groups and built-in baby sitters, who don’t even have to travel to get to your house.

“I can call on pretty much over a dozen people who could baby-sit for me,” Liese says. “Just from within the building.”

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Finding other kids and parents in the city can be a simple task even if you don’t live in a high-rise. Just head outside. “When I moved to Capitol Hill six years ago, everybody was at the playground every night,” says Jody Pratt, 39, who rents a rowhouse with her husband and three kids. “It was almost kind of like a parent version of the bar I used to go to when I was younger. You’d see the same faces. It was a very social time for the adults and for the kids.”

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Jennifer Barger · September 27, 2013