A renter's apartment choices are usually limited to the number of bedrooms and baths and maybe what floor to live on or the view from the living room window.
That is not the case at the new Alexan Eisenhower in Alexandria. Here, apartment living is all about options. Upon entering the lavishly appointed guest center, prospective tenants are presented with 14 different floor plans to choose from.
Like the convenience of living in a garden-style apartment complex where you can walk to your front door? Well, the Alexan is right for you. Or would you rather live in a mid-rise building with a lobby? The Alexan offers that, too. You can either park for free on the surface lot or pay extra for garage space.
"Something for everyone," is how leasing administrator Daryl E. Smith describes the community.
Apartments in the Alexan's garden units and mid-rise buildings range in size from 744 square feet for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit to 1,339 square feet for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit with a loft. The loft option, available in both one- and two-bedroom units, has been the most popular among tenants, Smith said. Most residents use the small loft area above the living room as a den, study or computer area, he said.
Nearly every apartment model has something about it that makes it stand out from the others. Even the shapes of the apartments vary. Some are square and some are rectangular. A few even resemble a trapezoid.
Some units have larger kitchens for those who love to cook, and others have larger living rooms for those who like to entertain. And while all units come with a full-size washer and dryer, sometimes they are in the master bath, and sometimes they are in the kitchen or a small nook close to the main entry.
Other units have fireplaces or kitchen islands. Some have a built-in desk in either a hallway or the laundry area, where it can double as a folding area. Again, it depends on what the tenant wants, Smith said.
Two-bedroom units either have the bedrooms right next to each other or on opposite sides of the apartment with the living room in the center. The latter is a great set-up for roommates sharing an apartment, Smith said.
Debbie and Tom Sparks chose the two-bedroom "roommate style" layout for their new home. "It gives a lot of privacy when friends and family come to visit," Debbie Sparks said.
The couple relocated to the Washington area from Seattle when Debbie Sparks took a job as a benefits manager for a law firm. They knew very little about the area, she said, and consider themselves lucky to find the Alexan. "I was in an extended-stay hotel and wanted to get out of there as soon as possible," she said. "I just drove by one day and saw the sign that said 'new' and 'renting.' So I went in, took one look and signed the lease that day." She said that for newcomers, being within walking distance of the Van Dorn Metro Station is an advantage because people can more easily explore the city.
Easy Metro access was the main reason Denise and Rodney Wells chose a one-bedroom apartment at the Alexan. "It's a very short walk," Denise Wells said. The couple already owned a lovely, brand-new house in Frederick, but the commutes to her job at the Commerce Department and his job at the Library of Congress were killers. Denise wanted a place in town and close to a Metro station to stay in during the work week.
"He's a country person and I'm a city person, so this is our compromise," she said. "Even when we were building our home, it was agreed that we'd get an apartment close to the city during the week."
Although their apartment is just a place to eat and sleep, it was important to them to find a place they really liked. Denise Wells has allergies and wanted a new place that had no previous occupants. Rodney Wells wanted a community with amenities such as a 24-hour fitness center and a pool. It's nice to know that no matter what time you come home, there is still time to work out, she said.
In addition to the fitness center and pool, the Alexan offers a business center with computer workstations, copiers and fax machines, a conference room, a clubhouse, a cyber cafe with free Starbucks coffee, and a library of DVDs and VHS tapes available to borrow. When the mid-rise buildings are complete, there will also be a rooftop fitness area with a planned tennis court, Smith said.
For Debbie Mosely, the Alexan was an easy choice. During her apartment search, she focused on areas convenient to her job at American University.
Out of everything she looked at, she said, the Alexan stood out. "Everywhere you go, the prices for rents are virtually all the same," she said. "It used to be the further you lived out from the District, the less expensive it was. Not anymore. For the same amount of money you get a place that is brand new and amenities that are just state of the art. It's a great deal."