A Tale of Two Penthouses, Vol. 1: Park Plaza Unit 801

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Living room in zig-zag glory
Living room in zig-zag glory

The Park Plaza is in a bit of an enclave.  It’s hollering distance from Whole Foods when you want to cook and Nonna when you don’t; PK’s for good red wine and the French Laundry when you spill it.  There’s even a Methodist Family Health Center on the corner.  If you want to scoot downtown, you’ve almost got a private Tollway entrance and exit. Even the complex’s size is personal at just 46 units.

I went to see unit 801 because of the WTF pictures.  Listed with Meredith Houston with Briggs Freeman for $2.895 million after a recent $400,000 drop, this 5,324-square-foot home offers three bedrooms and three full and one half bathroom.  It’s also got a spiffy big 300-ish square feet of patio overlooking downtown that’s A-OK to barbeque on (a rarity in a high-rise).

The home was also formerly owned by Henry S. Miller Jr. and his wife Juanita.  Showcasing the family’s increasing fortunes, this home is quite a bit larger than Miller Sr.’s South Blvd. digs.

Back to those pictures.  I thought the zig-zaggy walls and roofs were crazy interesting.  To me it has a little deco vibe coupled with several period stone fireplace surrounds.  Very original.  I had no idea.

Herringbone floors are still a statement
Herringbone floors are still a statement

Just entering this home, you understand you’re in for an unveiling as much as a viewing.  Whether you agree with my art deco influence or believe it reminiscent of Middle Eastern stars, ziggurats, or Charlie Brown’s shirt, it is eye-catching.

It’s only design downfall is that the walls are papered not painted, and in need of conservation or removal.
Its only design downfall is that the walls are papered not painted, and in need of conservation or removal.

Seeing everything up-close you really get a feel for why the designers, Charles Paxton Gremillion Jr. and Loyd Ray Taylor did what they did.  Drama, baby. You see, the ceilings are more dramatic than you realize.  The ceilings at the outer edges of the apartment vault up into the eaves of the building’s roof. Rather than have a ceiling of tall, windowless angled spaces, they opted to install the zig-zagged geometric shapes to bring a definition and uniform ceiling to the rooms.  The result is neck-craning.

However one thing completely wigged me out. Listing agent Houston showed me the Architectural Digest feature on the home … from 1988!  I would have never guessed.  1988?  No way!

As they say, 1988 was a very interesting year.  Microsoft introduced Windows 2.1, singer Adele was born, Andy Gibb died and NASA scientist James Hansen testified before the Senate that man-made global warming has begun (for all the good it did).

This home certainly has held up better than Windows 2.1!

PP 801 - Dining 1

The dining room really is a tour de force. The table and buffet (far end) are original and stay with the home.  The lighting, combined with the zigs and a picture-perfect view of downtown make any dinner here worthy of a diary entry. With the Millers as hosts, I’m sure many parties were the talk of the town.

PP 801 - Kitchen 3

All is not 1988 though.  The kitchen has been overhauled with top-of-the-line appliances including a 6-burner range, double ovens and a Sub-Zero fridge.  It’s also a kitchen after my own heart with lots and lots of drawers.

PP 801 - Kitchen 1

Another unexpected feature is the green carpet of Highland Park out your kitchen windows. There’s even an eat-in banquette behind the stainless steel column.  It’s right next to the windows for some mighty dreamy meals.

PP 801 - M Bed 1

The master retreat has also had the benefit of updating.  The room contains another period fireplace surround and more classical moldings.  Unfortunately the new owner will have to bring their own surround.  This one is an heirloom of the current owner and doesn’t transfer with the property.  But if you like the style, I’m sure you could have it easily recreated.

PP 801 - M Bath 1

There’s nothing to recreate in this killer master bath.  Separate double vanities, freestanding bathtub with views and enough Carrara to open a quarry — it’s all here.  I especially love the double-headed shower that runs behind the vanity with a glass door at one end and a glass panel on the other (for light and views).  A bedroom-sized closet rounds out the suite.

PP 801 - Guest Bed 1

The guests aren’t left out of the fabulousness either with a smart bedroom offering “I never want to leave” views of downtown in the distance.

I hear you mumbling, “What views?”  THESE VIEWS …

PP 801 - Patio View 1

From the patio, dining room, living room, and guest bedroom, the city awaits. The other rooms get above-the-park views of Highland Park.  And nothing’s going to be built in your way.

Given its location I’m sure you’re thinking about the tollway.  Sure it exists, but it’s on the other side of the building, which screens this home from the noise.  That’s the odd thing about sound, it doesn’t travel exactly how you expect.

This home proves that innovative and inventive design travels well through time. Or at least I think so.

Remember:  Do you have an HOA story to tell?  A little high-rise history? Realtors, want to feature a listing in need of renovation or one that’s complete with flying colors?  How about hosting a Candy’s Dirt Staff Meeting?  Shoot Jon an email.  Marriage proposals accepted (they’re legal)!  sharewithjon@candysdirt.com


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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is CandysDirt.com's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on SecondShelters.com. An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

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