If it is true that one usually gets what one pays for, then Windsor Court & Tower must be the exception that proves the rule: The Silver Spring community offers roomy apartments in a convenient location and for a price that is hard to beat in the area.
Every apartment has either a balcony or a patio, and nearly all units have walk-in closets and large foyers. The hilly and woodsy complex, built in 1973, offers not only nine different floor plans but two distinct building types as well: Windsor Court is made up of 26 garden-style buildings with charming sun-lit atria; and Windsor Tower is a mid-rise building with elevators and laundry facilities in each floor.
"When I first saw my apartment, I thought, oh, my goodness, I have to take it," said Evelyne Kiganda, who has been living in the community since 1995.
Several aspects of the place contributed to her excitement, she recalled, but size was decisive--friends always are surprised when they visit her spacious two-bedroom apartment with a den.
Her 1,450-square-foot unit also was a plus for her 6-year-old son, Markus Senkeeto. "There is space enough for him to run around," Kiganda said. And it gets even better: Because mother and son are on the ground floor, the boy's running doesn't bother the neighbors, she said.
Kiganda, a performer and founder of the African music and drama company Kayaga of Africa, regularly travels around the area to make presentations, so the complex's central location--close to the Capital Beltway--scored high on her list.
There's also plenty of public transportation nearby: Three bus routes connect residents to neighboring areas and to the Silver Spring station on Metro's Red Line. A commercial shopping strip within walking distance of the Windsor buildings is another plus, she said.
Kiganda recently renewed her lease, but plans to leave next year because she and her fiance, Victor Njuki, will be getting married and buying their first home.
Most tenants leave Windsor Court & Tower to become homeowners like Kiganda or when they relocate to another area; otherwise, they generally stay more than a year, property manager Patricia Baylock said. According to Baylock, the turnover is low and the property is usually 96 percent to 98 percent occupied. She attributes it to Windsor's rare combination of location, price and, her strongest marketing tool, the size of the apartments.
The spacious layouts are "something you don't see that often," Baylock said.
To build a sense of community among the residents and to show outsiders what living at Windsor can be, Baylock and the 12-person Windsor staff periodically organize parties and get-togethers, such as Fourth of July parties and a Halloween costume contest.
For Jomanto Joyner, the Silver Spring community is one of the best in which he has lived. He and his roommate, Avanti Morris, moved from Langley Park two years ago to get closer to his job as a salesman and hers as a grocery-store cashier.
They said they had to look around a bit before finding their two-bedroom at Windsor Court. "Everything in this area is kind of expensive," Joyner said. "It gave us a lot to think about."
But when they were done with the apartment hunting, Joyner and Morris quickly discovered another reason, beyond the affordable rent, to appreciate their place: the quiet. According to the two roommates, the complex provides the perfect atmosphere to relax after a long day at work. In addition, there were no noisy neighbors, such as they had in Langley Park.
But even if neighbors at Windsor were noisy, Joyner and Morris might not hear them anyway.
"You can't hear anybody," said Frances Smith, a resident of Windsor Tower for 16 years. Sturdy brick walls do the trick, added Smith's daughter, Joni Webster. A resident of 15 years, Webster raised her two sons, Jon, 17, and Wesley, 13, in the complex. For her, another nice aspect of life in Windsor Court & Tower is that neighbors are very friendly but pretty much keep to themselves.
One person who does not keep to herself is Baylock, who says she keeps in touch with tenants and any potential problems through the staff members who service each of the buildings.
"They make sure that all garbage is picked up, that any mess the children make is cleaned up," Baylock said. "There's always a possibility that some [problem] can crop up, but that's why we always have staff available."
The property is managed by Zuckerman/Gravely Management Inc., a Chevy Chase real estate company that also manages and owns two rental properties in Northern Virginia.
WINDSOR COURT & TOWER
13802 Castle Blvd.
Silver Spring, Md. 20904
* Application fee: $25
* Security deposit: $300, refundable
* Lease term: Six months or one year
* Utilities: Not included
* Amenities: Swimming pool; two tot lots; on-premise day-care center
* Parking: Free outdoor lot
* Pet policy: Cats only
APARTMENT SIZE QUANTITY SQUARE FEET MONTHLY RENTAL
1 BR/1BA 193 800 to 850 $680 to $720
2BR/1BA 26 1,050 to 1,100 $760 to $800
2 BR/2BA 199 1,100 to 1,150 $775 to $825
2 BR/DEN/2 BA 14 1,450 $950
3BR/2BA 26 1,475 $970 to $1,030