With its acid-washed concrete floors and sleek concrete lobby furniture, the Montgomery at Wheaton Metro could make a postmodern Fred Flintstone feel at home.
Opened last October, the Montgomery combines Stone Age and Industrial Age touches in Wheaton's first new apartment building in nearly a decade. Steel ceiling fans whir in procession down the hallways, while exposed black pipes, accented by red clamps and joints, angle along the edge of corridor walls. Rough-hewn concrete picnic tables ring the large courtyard swimming pool.
"We are going for an urban industrial feel," said Sarah Ebert, the property manager. "Maybe retro modern is the right phrase. We're modern, but a little bit of a throwback. We definitely stand out. It's not your typical setup."
That's what drew Nadia and Ryvy Rueda. Their White Flint apartment building was going condo, and they moved to the Montgomery in February.
"We liked what we saw and the way it was so different from any other apartment building. The industrial look really caught my eye," said Nadia Rueda, who works in volunteer services at Children's National Medical Center.
As Wheaton tries to transform itself from an aging, rough-around-the-edges suburb to a vibrant urbanized neighborhood, the Montgomery is one of the first of many new housing options planned. Just behind the Montgomery, a townhouse development called the Brownstones at Wheaton Metro is almost complete.
The Brownstones is sold out, and eager buyers camped out overnight to buy before construction started. The Montgomery, in contrast, was still just 45 percent occupied in early August, and leases were signed on 64 percent of the apartments.
The 239-unit, five-story Montgomery is 500 feet from the Wheaton Metro station on the Red Line and across Georgia Avenue from a newly built Bally's fitness center and the newly renovated Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton.
A recent, allegedly gang-related stabbing at the mall has not fazed many residents. "I can't imagine it will change my shopping habits at all," Rueda said.
The proximity to Metro drew Peaches and Harvey Hurwitz to the Montgomery from their home a couple of miles away in Silver Spring, where they lived for 47 years.
"We were there first on the list for an apartment. It's near our former house; we use Metro a lot and like the location. It just struck a chord with us," said Peaches Hurwitz, 79. "I also like the eclectic mix in the building. There are a lot of singles and some children, too."
The only drawback, she said, was that their apartment, one of only three three-bedroom units, wasn't ready when it was supposed to be. They lived in a temporary apartment for five months.
The Montgomery includes a mix of indoor and outdoor corridors that connect to a multi-level garage. Because of this, many residents can drive up to the level they live on and walk right into their hallway. In an effort to get people out of their cars, the Montgomery also plans to have mountain bikes that residents may borrow.
The floor plans include traditional one- and two-bedroom apartments, one-bedroom apartments with lofts and two-story, two-bedroom "townhouse" apartments. Most apartments have nine-foot ceilings and six-foot windows; some have balconies or gas fireplaces. Each apartment has a full-size washer and dryer.
Black and white tile flooring in the kitchens carries the retro theme beyond the corridors. Some kitchens have islands.
Leslie Abrams was attracted to the Montgomery for its loft apartments. She was one of the first residents to move in last October.
"The apartment is a different style than many in the area and has a lot of room," said Abrams, a lawyer who used to live in Silver Spring. "Those high windows let in a lot of lovely, lovely light. But I'm finding out that it comes with a high cooling cost."
The Montgomery offers a variety of amenities, from business and fitness centers to a DVD/video library. Coffee, tea, cookies and fruit are available in the building's spacious club room. The Montgomery's "away from home" service will water residents' plants, care for their pets and bring in packages.
Residents praise the management's responsiveness.
"The staff here is tops," Peaches Hurwitz said. "Our granddaughter was swimming and went to change in the bathroom. She suggested they needed hooks to hang up clothes. The office said, 'Great idea,' and I bet we'll see those hooks up there next time she's in the pool."