Lewis Marcus, 44, can walk out of his apartment door, down paths surrounded by trees, out onto a dock and aboard his small sailboat. Like all residents of Watergate Village, an Annapolis waterfront apartment community, he has the option to rent a boat slip.
"I built it with my sons," Marcus said about his small sailboat, which they built in Annapolis. "Anybody who lives here feels they should have something to enjoy the water."
Watergate Village provides him with more than a place to store his boat. The community has walking paths, a pool and a spacious picnic area all readily available. The complex, in the Eastport neighborhood across the bridge from downtown Annapolis, is a five-minute drive to the restaurants and docks that draw tourists to the historic town.
"It's great to be here in Annapolis. . . . I picked the apartment because I had always wanted a water view in Annapolis," Marcus said.
Other tenants agree. Matt Carson, 48, has lived in his two-bedroom, one and a half bath apartment for about a year and enjoys being near the water. "I have a 10-year-old daughter. She likes to go crabbing and fishing," he said.
There are 608 apartments in Watergate Village, which is run by owner-manager Bernstein Management Corp. The community was started in 1961, when the garden-style apartments were built; in 1964, mid-rise apartment buildings were added. There are three streets, 20 buildings and the community center spread over 37 acres.
Watergate Village is Annapolis's only rental community to offer boat slips, manager Leslie Caffey said. For those who don't want to invest in a power or sail boat, there are racks where they can store their canoes and kayaks.
Recent New York transplant Scott Chapman, 23, said he plans to buy a kayak at some point so he can enjoy the water. His two-bedroom apartment was the first he looked at after getting a job in the area. "I checked out other places, nothing else can compare," he said. "I love being on the water."
He said, "It's a quiet, pleasant neighborhood, where people are friendly."
A grocery store and other shops are in walking distance. "We walk downtown from time to time," Carson said of himself and his daughter. Residents can park free in the community lots but must register their cars.
Bernstein Management is renovating the complex. Caffey has been charged with ensuring the exteriors as well as the interiors are redone. The company has been investing heavily in upgrading the property, residents said. Buildings are getting a new exterior coat of paint and new lobby furniture. Upgrades to apartments include new kitchens. Renovations of units are being done when tenants move out.
Carson, who is self-employed, is still adapting to apartment living, which he is finding a bit cramped. Watergate Village's apartment units are compact and efficient, well built and organized, but without a lot of superfluous space.
Carson praised his view -- he sees water on two sides when he looks out his windows.
Marcus likes the view from his apartment, too. "When you walk in, the whole wall is glass. I feel like I'm living outside." He has a view of Back Creek, the waterway that's next to Watergate Village.
The complex hosts multiple events throughout the year, many of them focused on water. This summer, residents could go on an educational cruise of the Chesapeake, courtesy of Bernstein Management. Marcus and his sons were sponsored by Watergate Village in the EYC Foundation Annapolis Family Boat Building Project.
"The owners like to involve themselves in community projects," Marcus said. The boat project was local and family-oriented, so it fit that description. Marcus and his sons built their wooden sailboat in the summer of 2004 during the three and a half day event.
Barbecues are held at the picnic tables overlooking the water. There is a newsletter to inform residents of events, including such things as a Tuesday morning tea and a Western hoedown. There are a gym and a community room on the bottom floor of the recently built community center. On the top floor, there is a business center for residents. There is also a resident-run club, the Watergate Village Yacht Club, that is open to residents and those who rent boat slips.
Neighbors range in age from young college students to older residents who have lived in the apartments since shortly after they were built, Marcus said.
"I've always felt safe," he said. There is a courtesy patrol that watches over the community. When fire destroyed some apartments in Marcus's building more than a year ago, management made sure the residents had what they needed. "They did an incredible job of handling all the families and relocating everyone," Marcus said. "They took care of everybody during the fire. They fed us all."