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Life Up High – Skyrise apartment perches on top, but sits in the middle of city action

Hinman Company - Skyrise Apartments

KALAMAZOO – The Rev. Robert “Bob” R. Gepert, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan and his wife, Anne Labat-Gepert, owner of Liturgical Threads, have had a bird’s-eye view of hawks and falcons since they moved into Skyrise Luxury Apartments in downtown Kalamazoo in June 2009.

Their 1,585-square-foot apartment, on the top residential floor of the Skyrise Center, overlooks the city, providing panoramic views of the horizon in several directions.

“You can see three miles from here,” said Amanda Triemstra, administrative assistant of the complex.

The website for the apartments says residents in top floors get a view of 100 square miles of landscape.

“We had the opportunity to get a 21st floor apartment,” Anne said.  “The views really can’t be duplicated in Kalamazoo, and the skylights and cathedral ceilings are a wonderful addition.”

“We enjoy downtown living,” Bob said.  “It’s convenient to just about everything, and there are so many opportunities in Kalamazoo.”

His office is on the main floor of the Skyrise Center; Anne’s studio is only two-and-a-half blocks away in the Peregrine Square building, next door to where they used to live.

Skylights brighten their living room, bedroom and bath, evoking a spacious feeling.  Ledges in the living room are an excellent home for plants.  Geraniums, violets, red leaf philodendrons, Christmas cactus, a jade plant and Norfolk Pine thrive there.

The living room walls showcase paintings and prints from local artists.  Posters from Rome, Paris and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts hang in the hallway.  Colorful glass paperweights, several from Scotland, decorate a window ledge.  The couple have added a hardwood floor.

Shades of blue and green dominate the color scheme.

“We love color, so we had the apartment painted to reflect water and earth,” Anne said.

“Calming colors,” Bob said.  “Life is hectic enough.”

The bedroom and dining room furniture is Mission style and harmonizes well with other pieces.  Skylights and artwork add interest in the master bath.

The apartment is filled with special treasures.  Oh a high shelf in the kitchen sit an antique butter churn, coffee grinder, scales and crocks, each with a story.  Anne tells the story of walking past an antique store as a child.

“I wanted the coffee grinder for a Christmas present for my mother,” she said.  “So every week for several months, I’d drop off a nickel or dime as payment to hold it for me.  Finally, the owner, who was very generous, let me have the coffee grinder.”

A family member used the churn to make a pound of butter each day, Anne said.

Anne uses a plaid tartan teapot from Scotland for brewing and serving tea.  Organ pipes from a Pennsylvania church where Bob was once a minister are displayed in the entryway.

From his cage in the kitchen, a canary named Roger sings along with Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera.

Photos of the couples combined family of seven children, 16 grandchildren and a great grandson cover two walls in the master bedroom.  More family photos are in the den that doubles as a guest bedroom.

A second bathroom off the hall is used by guests.  A triangular-shaped deck, with access from both the den and bedroom, has a gas grill.

There is even a fireplace.

“Sure, we have to carry the wood upstairs, but we have an elevator,” Anne said.

Storage space is at a premium – as it is in most apartments – but it has been utilized well.  A small utility room located off the hall contains the washer and dryer and shelves for laundry supplies.  An electric heat pump is hidden securely in a closet behind a door off the living room.

The couple also rents storage space near their parking space in the building’s underground garage.

Anne and Bob are pleased that neither has to drive to work and that they can enjoy their bird’s-eye views of the city.

Story written by Ardyce Czuchna-Curl

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