No water or air conditioning in 'luxury' downtown apartments

The thermostat in Matt Rechkemmer's luxury apartment overlooking Oriole Park at Camden Yards read 85 degrees Sunday afternoon, and he wondered whether he'd be able to take a shower before going to work Monday morning.

"It's incredibly frustrating," said Rechkemmer, whose 12th-story apartment in the Zenith, an upscale high-rise apartment building in downtown Baltimore, has been without air conditioning since late Wednesday and without water since Saturday.


"It's blazing hot in here, and you can't really do anything without creating more heat," he said. "You feel like you're living in this luxury apartment, and they are charging you up the wazoo for it, and then you don't even have basic amenities."

A majority of the building's apartments are being affected "to some extent," said a spokeswoman for Bozzuto, the company that manages the Zenith. The 21-story building has apartments with one, two and three bedrooms, as well as studio apartments.


According to officials with Baltimore's Public Works Department and Bozzuto, city and private crews are working together to determine why the building has low water pressure, which is believed to be causing the other problems.

"We took a number of investigative steps — including thorough and multiple third-party inspections of the building's mechanical and plumbing systems — that have ruled out any issues within the building or the building's systems," Lauren McDonald, a Bozzuto spokeswoman, said in a statement. "We are confident that the city will resolve this issue as quickly as possible for our residents and are committed to working with them closely in a joint effort to make this happen."

Jennifer Livingston, the building's property manager, deferred all questions to McDonald.

Rechkemmer, 27, said he believed most units above the 12th floor were without water.

Shonte Eldridge, a city public works spokeswoman, said department crews are investigating whether the low water pressure is related to water main repairs occurring nearby on Light Street.

"That's what they're researching," she said.

The repairs on Light Street follow a rupture of a 20-inch-wide water main under the street that buckled the road's surface and disrupted the water service to a number of nearby businesses, forcing the city to set up temporary lines. The Zenith building, in the 500 block of West Pratt Street, is a little more than a half-mile from where the water main burst.

Eldrige said the city is asking for patience from the building's residents as it determines the problem. City officials are scheduled to meet with Bozzuto officials Monday, she said.


Rechkemmer, a tenant in the building since 2009, said his patience is already wearing thin.

He and a roommate pay $2,300 a month for their two-bedroom apartment and should be treated better by Bozzuto, he said.

So far, Rechkemmer said, the company has made a lobby bathroom and two other bathrooms near the building's leasing offices available to residents without water, and has allowed some residents without water to shower in unoccupied apartments that do have water.

Rechkemmer said the company provided bottled water and pizza Sunday night but could be doing more.

"You'd think that they'd try to put people up in a hotel," he said.

Neither Bozzuto nor the city had taken responsibility for the situation, and tenants had largely been left in the dark about what is occurring and what the time frame may be for a fix, Rechkemmer said Sunday afternoon.


"We're just getting the run-around," he said.

On Sunday night, McDonald said Bozzuto would begin putting residents up in hotels on a "night-by-night basis."