Urban Living, Part 1
The Property: 1500 Condominium, at 1500 N. 6th Street. Built new by The Vartan Group in 2012, the property features 43 units – studios, apartments and lofts. Occupancy is almost full. Most are rentals, but some residents have purchased their units, according to Vartan Group CEO Ralph Vartan (1500condo.com).
Design Features: On the outside, the building is Miami Art Deco. Inside, architectural interest with urban flair shows in the concrete floors, exposed pipes and windows that stretch from floors to 12-foot ceilings. Architectural lighting adjusts to illuminate walls, artwork and spaces. What Vartan described as “little cool design details” include cabinet bottoms hung 22 inches above countertops – four inches more than the standard 18 – to accommodate “countertop appliances that didn’t exist 10 or 20 years ago.” Many residents are transplants to Harrisburg from larger cities who want to keep that metropolitan vibe (and are shocked at the decidedly non-major metro prices).
The Home: Pete Walsh and Fe Amarante moved into their roomy, 1,300-square-foot corner unit in March 2016. They were blending households, and she found the building first. Amarante liked the secure, attached garage. Walsh liked the concrete floors, which “make things easier to clean up. It looks good. You can accessorize with different colors, like the rug and the couch.”
Location, Location, Location: Distance runners Walsh and Amarante live half a mile from the Capital Greenbelt, where they train for half-marathons and marathons. They meet up with fellow members of River Runners at City Island, or with the Harrisburg Beer Runners (yes, there is such a group) at Midtown hangouts Zeroday Brewing or HMAC. They’re also a short walk to coffee shops and the Broad Street Market for shopping. Residents often frequent Café 1500 and Crawdaddy’s, the building’s ground-floor restaurants, said Vartan.
It’s a Dog’s Life, and a Cat’s, too: With its concrete floors, 1500 is pet-friendly. In the Walsh-Amarante home, orange-and-white Mac and black, fluffy Otto – best buddies since Walsh got them as kittens – like to warm themselves in sun streaming through the massive windows. Also gleaming in the sunny window is a stegosaurus, BeDazzled in red, yellow, blue and green, which Walsh bought through an online auction at the end of Harrisburg’s Dinomite Summer 2016.
Room with a View: From the Walsh-Amarante third-floor vantage point, the view extends as far as the Blue Mountains in the distance. “Especially during the summer, we get some really cool sunsets,” said Walsh. With vertical, movable window panels from Ikea hanging for privacy and shade, the sun never overheats the apartment, he added.
Mid-Century Modern: Every apartment starts as “a blank canvas” for residents to display their unique aesthetics, said Vartan. Walsh and Amarante have tastes so similar that the items they brought into the home blend perfectly. Almost everything else, including a showpiece red modular sofa, came from Ikea. Mid-Century Modern peeks out in every spot, from the lightweight chandelier hanging from the lighting tracks to Rat Pack vinyl records – Dean Martin Hits Again – standing by the turntable.
Party Time: During a holiday dinner throughout the building, Amarante served a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, that “just killed it,” said Vartan. “By far the best ever.” In this building, said Walsh, “If you want to hang out with one of the neighbors, you go and hang out with them.”
Up on the Roof: Residents ascend to the building’s green roof, planted with trees and succulent grasses, for outdoor getaways amid scenic vistas. In the distance are the mountains. Up close, a 360-degree look at the city. The Capitol dome and trees as they blossom in the spring, grow full in the summer and turn colors in the fall. “It’s a pretty city,” said Vartan. “You can see the city from the West Shore, and it’s almost an iconic look, but the look from here is the back of Midtown. You don’t see it from anywhere else.”