Sunday, December 21, 2008
Not too many dials spinning on these Monroe Commons gas meters
Monroe Commons was the first condo development I focused on in the Condos After Dark series in Letter from Here and in this Flickr set. The series was meant to be an ironic commentary on the condo overbuilding taking place in Madison, but as the market began to slow and then tank entirely, there no longer seemed to be much point.
I passed these gas meters for the Monroe Commons condos in the basement garage of Trader Joe's the other day. What caught my eye at first was the pattern they made -- like the wiring for some sort of electric circuit, with pipes instead of wires.
But then I recalled the old Monroe Commons post and wondered how many of them were actually in use. I checked the small dial on each that meters out the individual cubic feet of gas as they go flowing by -- the one that you can see actually moving when gas is being used. Only eight were moving. Maybe that's why the building looks so dark when you drive by on Monroe Street.
Of course, a snapshot of gas consumption at one moment in time doesn't necessarily correlate directly to occupancy rates. When I got home I checked the Monroe Commons website. Turns out that, as of October, 29 out of 51 units, or 57%, were sold. Some were probably bought as investments and aren't necessarily owner-occupied. That, combined with the fact that most of the units that did sell are on the upper floors facing away from Monroe Street, explains why, now, some two years after it opened, the complex still seems mostly deserted when you drive by on Monroe.