PROVINCETOWN — Harbor Hill was built as a time-share complex, to host people enjoying a week or two of vacation. After sitting vacant for years, then being bought by Provincetown’s Year-Round Market-Rate Rental Housing Trust, Harbor Hill now has a very different rhythm to it.
Its 28 apartments are occupied by 44 adults, 10 children, 6 dogs, and 4 cats. There are families and restaurant workers, business owners and town employees. Some people who live there say it feels like the first home they’ve ever had that was really theirs.
The Independent talked to several residents of Harbor Hill about the building, the rents, and their experience there. Selections from those conversations follow.
Emily Sgarlat, launch captain, Flyer’s Boat Rental:
“This is the fifth place I’ve lived in six summers. Almost every year I’ve had to find a new place. Even when they work out, you still feel like you’re in someone else’s living room, tiptoeing around their things.
“This is one of the first places I’ve lived where we could really make it ours, furnish it from the beginning. The rent is more than I’ve ever had to pay, but I do feel like it’s worth it. One of the huge things, each unit has its own washer and dryer. To not have to spend your day off at the laundromat is major.
“The view is great, the location is wonderful. It was really easy to make it feel homey and comfortable here. I feel like it’s our own little community — we trade spices and cups of sugar. And it’s just a relief to know we can live year-round at the same price.”
Chris Kosiavelon, restaurant worker and drag queen, performing as Bang:
“It’s nice because it’s more secure. You don’t have to find new housing every six months. I also feel like we got really lucky with this apartment — it’s big and spacious and beautiful. It’s a three-bedroom with vaulted ceilings, and there’s two decks and four bathrooms!
“I will say, the walls, you can’t hear anything from the apartment next door, they’re solid. The floors though — the people above and below each other can kind of hear everything. It’s been an issue for several different people in this building. When it was time shares, maybe insulation just wasn’t a priority. When you’re here long-term, it’s definitely something you notice.”
Glenn Koss, bartender, Ross’ Grill and Boatslip Beach Club:
“Before I moved here, I lived in the same summer place and winter place for three years, moving back and forth. Then I had a year-round cottage, but it was really small. I like how much space I have here. I also really like that the town owns it, and it’s not something that someone can suddenly sell, and turn into weekly rentals. You know how people like to flip homes.
“There’s a lot of variation — some of the apartments have pretty new kitchens, and some really don’t. I picked mine because it has a big washer and dryer, and new cabinets that look nice. There’s new carpet and windows in mine too, but they don’t all have that.
“There’s definitely noise between units. I don’t know if it’s more up and down or side to side, but we can hear each others’ music whenever it’s playing.
“I feel really safe here. For four years, all my life was in a storage unit in Pennsylvania. Everything is here now, and it feels really good. This place is big, it’s clean, and it’s mine.”
Trevor Pittinger, co-owner, Provincetown Brewing Company:
“Even though I’d only been here a year, I really went through the spin cycle, so to speak, of housing. Three of us paid $24,000, up front, for my first summer housing, which was really a glorified bunkhouse. It was a three-bedroom, but it was a bunkhouse, and it wasn’t winterized, so it was really chilly when I first got there.
“There’s a huge common deck here that hasn’t really been used yet because of Covid. A couple of grills, and picnic tables. Some folks have started planting vegetables. I believe when the pandemic settles down, this will start to feel like a real neighborhood.
“To me, it has this Fire Island Pines kind of charm. I feel like I’m on the boardwalk in the Pines when I walk these stairs.
“It’s still expensive. It’s $2,000 for a two bedroom, and electric on top of that. I’m paying the same amount as I did in New York City. But, for what I have in terms of space, and the view … just to have agency over your own space is a privilege in Provincetown.
“I would say it’s the first place I’ve lived since I left home for college, that actually feels like my home. I really feel that way. Nothing’s perfect, but I love this place.”