The fashionable Promenade Towers, downtown's premier apartment complex, has its share of resident lawyers, accountants and artists.
It also has its share of actors and actresses, doctors and dentists. It even has a resident baseball celebrity in Tommy Lasorda, the Dodger manager who likes the short three-mile drive from his part-time home to the ballpark.
But the complex has more than its share of USC students, some angry residents claim. An estimated 300 Trojans have moved into the complex, most of them within the last few weeks.
"I moved in here because they (management) marketed this place as apartments for professionals," said one disgruntled tenant. "Now, they've turned it into a fraternity house."
Notice of Leaving
At least one tenant, citing problems he claims were caused by the students, has given the management company notice that he is breaking his one-year lease and moving out, said Matt Russell, general manager of the Promenade Towers.
Another resident, who asked not to be identified, said he, too, plans to break his lease and move out, and that a handful other tenants may do the same.
Promenade Towers was officially opened less than three months ago, although some tenants began moving in as early as last October. The $60-million mixed-use project, located on Figueroa Street between 1st and 2nd streets, immediately west of the Music Center, is a joint venture of Culver City-based Goldrich & Kest Industries and Shapell Industries of Beverly Hills.
The Promenade's slick marketing campaign has promoted the project as a "City Within a City," emphasizing its appeal to professionals who work downtown and are tired of fighting the rush-hour traffic. Although there are a few other new high-class residential projects in the city's core, most of them are owner-occupied condominiums rather than rental units.
Campus Housing Shortage
Residents in the Promenade are pampered with dozens of hotel-type services. The project boasts a dry cleaner, bank, dentist, market and in-house health club and gym. A beauty parlor and restaurant are planned. It also has a 24-hour switchboard and reception desk, and tenants' cars are parked by attendants.
Monthly rents range from about $600 for a studio apartment to $1,800 for a 1,060-square-foot penthouse.
USC's involvement with Promenade Towers began last spring, according to David Blackmar, the university's assistant director of housing services. About 11,000 students wanted to rent space in the 42 apartment buildings and residence halls the school owns, but there was only enough room to house 6,000.
"First we looked at hotels (to handle the overflow), but then we decided an apartment-like setting would be better," Blackmar said. "The Promenade had what we needed, so we didn't look any further."
In most cases, Blackmar said, four students live in each of the Promenade's two-bedroom, two-bath furnished apartments. Each student pays $315 a month rent, or $298 if the unit has only one bathroom.
Blackmar's department has helped to lease 70 of the Promenade's 573 apartment units to students attending USC. But, he said, other students have simply bypassed the department and leased a unit directly from the Promenade's management. As a result, he said, the number of USC students living in the complex may top 300.
With the new lease agreements the project now is more than 90% leased, a spokeswoman for the management company said.
Most of the students moved into their new homes over the last three weeks. Some previous tenants, however, started complaining even before the students moved in.
"I guess some people were worried that this was going to turn into something from 'Animal House,"' Russell said. "That hasn't happened."
Claims 'College Dormitory'
But the unhappy tenants haven't confined their complaints to the complex's management. The Times received a letter two weeks ago from a tenant complaining that the Promenade Towers, which "uses Tommy Lasorda to laud it as 'the only home to complement professional life styles,' has now become a college dormitory." The letter writer signed the note as "A Concerned Citizen of the 'Dormitory Within a City."'
Another tenant recently called the newspaper's real estate section to complain that some of the students have been dropping beer bottles off the top of the buildings, visitors are coming and going at all hours of the night, and that noise problems at the complex have become unbearable.
Russell denies that the students "are wrecking the complex.
"We've had a few problems with noise, but that's about it," Russell said. "I think people are blowing things out of proportion."
The manager said the worst accusation a tenant has made to his office was that "somebody dropped an orange out of a window." However, he notes, the suspect orange was never found.