Anthony Clark | The Gainesville Sun
Ed Cronauer said it was a "no-brainer" to return to The Bartram.
Cronauer and his roommate moved in Wednesday when the luxury apartment complex reopened about half of its 334 units after shutting down for nearly a year to repair faulty construction work.
Scaffolding covers the side of the complex facing Archer Road as work continues to repair the other half of the complex in preparation for a Jan. 1, 2013, opening.
The Bartram started preleasing the first half in December, and all 165 units were spoken for by early April, General Manager J.D. Hatton said.
The Bartram, at 2337 Archer Road, was one of several large complexes to open in 2008. The market was considered overbuilt as rental and occupancy rates dropped throughout Gainesville. When the complex closed for repairs in September 2011, it was about 90 percent occupied, according to management.
Occupancy and rents have been rising slowly since then.
Hatton said the complex filled up Phase I without offering concessions to new residents and has a waiting list for Phase II. Returning residents did get some concessions, he said.
Rents start at $1,150 for a one-bed apartment, $1,300 for a two-bed and $1,850 for a three-bed.
"We would like to think it's the product that The Bartram offers," Hatton said of filling up Phase I. "Location was a big item, especially for medical and dental students."
More than 90 percent of residents are graduate students or young professionals, with the rest being undergraduates, he said.
Cronauer, 25, and his roommate are dental students at the University of Florida. They were at The Bartram for a year when it closed and spent the past year at Campus View Place off Southwest Ninth Road.
Asked why he was eager to return, he ran down a list of amenities — a large apartment with granite countertops, a pool, grill, clubhouse with coffee machines, gym, pool table — and especially the six-level parking garage after having two parking places assigned to a three-bed apartment over the past year.
"So we were constantly fighting the whole parking situation — parking on the street, trying to find spots and all that."
The $60 million, four-story complex opened in September 2008 and started experiencing problems shortly thereafter, according to lawsuit records.
A consultant found problems with the roof, trusses, parapet walls, exterior balconies and exterior stair landings.
In December 2009, The Bartram sued the general contractor, CB Contractors of Atlanta, and several subcontractors for breach of contract. That led to several suits and countersuits among the contractor and subs.
The parties reached an undisclosed settlement May 1 before the case went to trial.
The Bartram hired another contractor for the repairs. Hatton said the complex decided to move the nearly 500 residents out rather than risk injury during construction.