Tasia Providence, 23, noticed the Paramount apartments months before she began hunting in earnest for a new place to live.
From the street, she was impressed by the clean, well-kept exterior of the 75-unit building in the District's Petworth neighborhood, so she kept the building's phone number. She was even more impressed when she saw the apartments.
"There are hardwood floors," said Providence, a second-grade teacher at the District's Malcolm X Elementary School. "It reminds me of the way old houses are built, with little touches, like glass door knobs."
When it was time for her to find an apartment, she checked out another building just in case, but the Paramount won handily. "All the rooms are good size and there are lots of windows. I have five total," she said of the apartment she moved into recently.
"I have a pantry, which is a good size. . . . It looks like it should be some sort of secret passageway."
The building, which is run by Bernstein Management Corp., was built in 1930 and offers efficiencies, one-bedroom and one or two-bedroom apartments with dens. The lobby is Art Deco style, with high ceilings, and boasts the original black and white tile.
The location is convenient, with "Metro at your front door and Safeway at your back door," Providence said. The building is just off Georgia Avenue, across from the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro station.
For Arlana Walford, 27, Metro is an important aspect to living at the Paramount. "U Street is five minutes away on the train. If the train wasn't there, I wouldn't live here," she said. "I don't have a car and living across the street from the Metro is key. Late at night, you don't have to worry how you're going to get from the Metro to your home."
There are other convenient aspects of the location, said Julina Waden, 33, who lives in the building with her husband and two children. A park and a recreation center are nearby, she said, and both of her children attend schools within a few blocks of home.
Brandi Redo, 26, lives in a two-bedroom apartment with a den on the top floor, with her 22-month-old son, Solomon, and Chris Atkin, 27. "There are a lot of children in the building. There is a school right across the road with a pretty big field and playground," she said. That's Raymond Elementary School.
Atkin has lived in the building for 41/2 years and says he is ready to move. But Redo said, "I like living here because of the fact that if you live in a house or suburban community, you don't know your neighbors. I know pretty much everyone on my floor."
The manager and staff live in the building, and there is a security guard on weekdays during the day. Waden said the area is quiet. "Once we come in here, we are in our own little world," she said.
Waden found the Paramount when she first looked for an apartment two years ago, after moving to Washington from North Carolina. "All utilities are included. It is very hard to find that around here," Waden said.
Other residents were hesitant to talk about the building, saying they feared that an increase in profile would cause an increase in rent. Like most other older rental buildings in the District, the Paramount is covered by the city's rent control law, which governs the size of annual rent hikes on existing tenants. Robin Baxter, the building's resident manager, said annual rent increases have been 3 to 4 percent.
While many residents said they are impressed with the level of service, Atkin said building management responds to complaints but that the repairs are not comprehensive enough. "Everything is a band-aid fix, something that is extremely frustrating for me as a tenant."
Baxter said she tours the building herself and looks for things that need repair. "I try to address the problem as quickly as possible for appearance and for the satisfaction of the tenants," she said.
Providence said the staff has been very prompt. "Miss Baxter runs a tight ship," she said.
The building is at the top of a hill. Walford moved in on July 1 and was able to watch the fireworks on the National Mall from her fourth floor apartment. "I can see the whole city," she said.
"It is my first real apartment on my own," she said. "It is a good starter apartment."