The most recent violence at the Piazza was the last straw for renter Molly Auer. After Sunday night's shooting, she posted the following message on the PIazza's Facebook page (her name was scratched out by our tipster in case she wanted to remain anonymous):
DelVal Media editor Allie Harcharek spotted Auer's post, and thought it was interesting in the context of the shooting. She took a screenshot and posted it to her Twitter page.
It took very little time for Bart Blatstein's Tower Investments, which owns the Piazza, to remove Auer's post from the Piazza Facebook page and to block Harcharek from its Twitter feed. Harcharek thinks it's a stupid PR move on the company's part, but isn't personally invested because she doesn't live there. Auer, on the other hand, is pissed—not about the Facebook post, but about a host of false promises she says Tower made.
"My boyfriend and I moved there a few months back," Auer told us from her office at the Star Group, where she's a senior vice president/associate digital director. "Since we've been there we've enjoyed all the restaurants and events. At 8 or 9 on a Saturday night, it's really nice—there are a lot of families. But at 11 or 12, a different type of crowd shows up." Auer says she and her boyfriend hear drunken fights in the Piazza from their sixth-floor apartment all the time. But that's nothing compared to larger safety issues.
When they first considered moving in, she says, they talked quite honestly with management about security because of past incidents. "They said they had beefed up security, and it was no longer an issue," Auer says, "and that precautions had been put in place." Both Auer and her boyfriend felt comfortable enough with the assurances to move in, especially because they were promised there'd be on-site parking for both their cars, something that's hard to find in the city. As it turns out, Auer frequently comes home at night from work to discover there isn't any parking on-site, so she ends up parking on a side street and walking back on streets that don't feel safe.
And then there was the gunshot to her balcony.
"I was having dinner with a friend. She was in the living room when I went downstairs to get delivery. When I came back up, she was gone." Auer's friend had fled the living room after she heard a shot and the entire outdoor balcony glass shattered, leaving some broken glass hanging. When Auer talked to the management company about it, she was told that when it happened once before, it had been the result of a gun—either a regular gun or a BB gun.
Follow-up was poor. "There was no investigation. No one came to talk to us. After five weeks they came to fix it." In the interim, Auer points out, pieces of the broken glass were hanging off her balcony and fell onto the one below.
And then Sunday night happened. "It was chaos," she says. Everyone was calling 911, people were videotaping from balconies, police were everywhere. Residents watched as police searched for the gun in a nearby lot. Auer's boyfriend went outside in time to see the bloody body being lifted onto a gurney. He was shaken. "It's not something you can just to bed after," she says.
Yesterday her boyfriend went into the management office—whose personnel Auer praises for being generally helfpul and friendly—and asked about getting out of the lease. There was a crowd of other PIazza residents doing the same. They were all told there was no provision in the contract for this kind of thing, so Auer took to Facebook. She tweeted her message to them as well. "Even if there's nothing that can be done, I want to make sure I hit enough social channels to say the reality is not what they're selling. There are still a lot of problems there and not a lot of motivation to fix it from what I can see."
We called Tower's marketing department for comment about their use of social media and about Auer's and Harcharek's posts specifically. As of press time, they haven't returned our calls.
· Deadly Shooting at PYT in The Piazza [Eater Philly]