60 Years of City Views Go To Auction: 3525 Turtle Creek #17B

On November 15, Heritage Auctions will be auctioning unit 17B at Dallas’ first residential high-rise, 3525 Turtle Creek.  It’s the Meyer-designed building with the concrete lattice (brise soleil) next to Vendome.  Since 1957, it’s been holding court on Turtle Creek and this year marks its 60th anniversary. After a recent tear of renovation projects and the famous Turtle Room about to reopen from a top-to-bottom restoration, the building has its groove back.

Of course there’s a story behind 17B, so whip up a hot cocoa and tuck yourself in …

Original floor plans courtesy of Nancy Martinez

Once upon a time, there were two units at 3525 Turtle Creek. One was an “A” unit comprising 2,497 square feet, and the other a “B” unit with 2,014 square feet.

One day, the “B” unit got very, very hungry and ate part of the “A” unit, leaving it with just 1,127 square feet. Meanwhile, the “B” unit grew to 3,671 square feet.

The combined “B” and partial “A” units

You may have looked at unit 17B at 3525 Turtle Creek and wondered about its layout.  Sure, you also thought it was a big 1980s renovation, but you were most mystified by what had become a clumsy floor plan.  Honestly, it’s what often happens when high-rise units are combined.  When you add-on to a single-family home, space is added where you want it.  In a high-rise, you can’t bump out into thin air, so you have to make do with the imperfection of combining all or part of a neighboring unit.

Current “aerial” view of 17B (Courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

As you can see above, there was significant reconfiguration of the unit.  Today there are just two bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms.  The kitchen and dining areas have also been relocated.  For orientation, the brown room with the light-colored center medallion (marked “den”) is the location of the original kitchen.  Having walked through the space on Halloween, it’s a very clumsy floor plan.

37 feet from end to end, and no columns.

Above is the central living room.  That picture you see on the far back (brown) wall, behind the doors, is the original kitchen’s location.  Imagine that all opened-up with a large island.  Without taking the kitchen into consideration, the room is a generous 37 column-free feet long.  The windows face the Dallas skyline.  Between a restored kitchen, downtown views, and the size of this room, the party will always be at your house.

Want to raise the roof? You can.  While there’s space to just lift it, be bolder.  One unit I’ve seen at 3525 Turtle Creek removed the ceiling, exposed the concrete rafters and painted them white.  It was a dramatic and very modern space … and it also added about 18-inches to the ceiling height as I recall.

8181 Douglas cleverly raised the ceilings for dramatic effect.

You could also steal inspiration from this (sold) unit at 8181 Douglas. Here, sections of the ceiling were removed and a grid inserted. They became ceiling “windows” that raised the feeling of the room.

“My” design overlaid with existing configuration

With that nugget of reconfiguration in your head, let’s play.  As a potential buyer, what scared you off was an inability to picture what to do.  So here’s my take.  The plenty big kitchen, living and dining spaces are restored from the original “B” floor plan.  Also, the terrace is reopened so you can sit outside and watch the city lights come on with a glass of wine.

The lower left, where the kitchen is today?  I’d either offer to sell it back to the “A” unit or use it as a media room, office or just plain storage.  Going up, I’d restore the original bedroom/study option where the current dining room is. I’d reinstall the master (his) bathroom and rework the master closet and a second (hers) bathroom.  You might only need one master bath, in which case seal the plumbing in the wall and expand the closet. (Yes, the “his” bath is larger. Call it payback for all the larger “hers” bathrooms I see.)

On the right, I’d also restore the two bedrooms and their respective bathrooms.

In the end you wind up with three bedrooms, an office and a storage/media room (or a giveback to unit “A”). You have a large entertaining space but also small private spaces for when you just want to read a book during “the big game” you couldn’t care less about.

Attention Buyer: If you do this, you have to invite me over!

Here’s what things look like when you’re done.  The good thing about renovating in a high-rise is that you don’t have to worry about foundation cracks or dodgy roofs. Other good things include no load-bearing walls and original plumbing that’s still there, possibly behind drywall.  Sure, you’ll still need a plumber, but you won’t be running new lines from 17 floors below (because you couldn’t anyway).  You can just get started.

One thing you won’t need to renovate are the views.  As with all real estate, location, location, location.  The green belt of Turtle Creek isn’t going anywhere and the skyline of Dallas is only getting larger.

I see $200,000 to $250,000 in renovation costs.  With an opening bid of $400,000, it’s possible you can get a screaming deal because you’re willing to do the work and get exactly what you want. If that appeals to you, Heritage Auctions has all the information you need.

Heritage Auctions is also having four days of buyer previews from November 10-14 from 1 to 4 p.m.  I’m going to attend the Sunday, November 12 preview, floor plans in hand, to talk to any prospective renovation-leaning buyers … and to sign autographs (LOL!).

Of course, you could always live in it as it is, but what’s the fun in that?

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement.  If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com.