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The new amenity building at Hamilton Court.

Credit: Pranay Vemulamada

For Penn students residing in Hamilton Court, the start of the school year was accompanied by a four-day period without hot water and ongoing maintainance issues. 

The hot water system of Hamilton Court, an apartment complex on 39th and Chestnut streets, went down on Sept. 3. The next morning, property manager David Gaardsmoe emailed all residents about the lack of hot water, noting that management was “working to fix the problem as soon as possible.” In the meantime, however, hundreds of students were left to shower in the cold. 

Wharton junior Frances Liu said she believed showering in cold water made her slightly sick due to her sensitivity to cold temperatures, adding that she visited Pottruck Health and Fitness Center to wash her hair.

Gaardsmoe emailed residents again last Tuesday night, writing that tenants could shower at another building owned by Hamilton Court's landlord, the Post Brothers, on 47th and Pine streets. On Thursday, as the hot water issues continued, Gaardsmoe emailed all residents to announce that management had rented a shuttle service running on 20-minute to 30-minute intervals from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. to take tenants to the other building. 

“They did offer an alternative place to take showers, but that was too much of a hassle for me, so I just tried to live with it,” College sophomore Joey Panganiban said.

The hot water was restored on Friday using an emergency boiler that the management rented, Post Brothers Apartments asset manager Joshua Guelbart said. He said the emergency boiler cost the building owners about $10,000. 

By Saturday, replacement parts for the original system had arrived and a back-up system was put in place. Gaardsmoe emailed residents indicating that the new system would prevent a similar outage from happening again in the future. 

Despite this assurance, Panganiban and Liu both expressed worry over hot water issues re-emerging in the winter. The cut in the hot water supply has also been accompanied by other maintenance issues. The initial breakdown in water heating for example, coincided with a power outage in the F building of the complex that lasted for about six hours. 

Wharton sophomore Cameron Rhind said he was concerned about management's ability to adequately respond to maintenance requests, noting that it previously took maintenance three days to fix lights in his bedroom.  

“I’m very frustrated by the lack of infrastructure to their management team in answering maintenance requests,” Rhind said. "It’s been upsetting because it’s been two weeks now since the start of the semester, the renovations are not done, and we’re having more foundational problems, like [no] running hot water."

Gaardsmoe noted that the normal wait time for non-emergency maintenance services is 48 hours, although the team is experiencing a backlog of requests due to the influx of student tenants at the beginning of the school year. 

The week of building-wide maintenance problems comes during a busy time for Hamilton Court. 

Almost two years have passed since the Post Brothers announced that Hamilton Court would undergo major renovations, including remodeling the rooms, constructing a new pool, and installing new restaurants like Halal Guys and Steve's Prince of Steaks on the property.

Credit: Ananya Chandra

Hamilton Court in January 2018

While the majority of the updates have been completed, only one of the restaurants has opened for service. 

Guelbart explained that the openings have been delayed due to the difficulty of obtaining restaurant permits from the city, and not due to the re-modeling of the space. He said all of the restaurants, along with the renovated laundry rooms, will be open for residents by the end of the month.