When I first started visiting Dallas for work, the paint was still wet on The Claridge (1984) and The Centrum (1985). I recall being annoyed when The Mansion Residences were built in 1992 because they ruined the views of downtown Dallas from both The Mansion on Turtle Creek and The Melrose hotels.
But through my decades of visiting, I thought/learned that Turtle Creek was the glam place to live in Oak Lawn. After failed attempts spanning two decades, here I am. Was it all worth it? Especially being at The Claridge, a building I never thought I’d like – or be able to afford. My Penthouse Plunge is my fourth home in Dallas in 11 years.
Happiness rests on two components. What’s it like to live inside The Claridge and what’s it like to live in the neighborhood. Or in Realtor-speak, the two dimensions of location, location, location.
Inside the Claridge
Arriving at The Claridge, owners and guests can use valet parking (I prefer to park myself as the penthouses have sweet parking spaces close to elevators). The lobby is quietly elegant without the flash of some newer buildings. It’s also a wide-open space in contrast to some lobbies that feel cramped and unwelcoming.
Riding up to your unit you rarely share an elevator. This is true in many high-rises and adds to the feeling of privacy. Two of the three elevators have benches, something I’d only seen once before at The Drake Hotel in Chicago. Yes, titter all you like, but sometimes I sit, especially after a 10-mile walk. It’s nice if a little discombobulating. For a man, I’ll liken it to the odd feeling of sitting on a toilet in an airplane.
As the doors open on the 18th-floor you’re greeted by an elevator lobby bookended by walls of backlit onyx unseen on other Claridge floors.
Inside the units
From a floorplan perspective, both 18-A (the unit I’m renovating to sell) and 18-B have really good layouts. The renovation that joined them made for a pointless, inefficient and rambling home. Separating the units made the only real sense (a big reason it sat on the market for four years).
I’ve been partly unpacked and living in my unrenovated side of the penthouse for a few weeks (thankfully they never ditched the second kitchen) and will say it’s BIG. At 2,541 square feet, it’s 640 square feet larger than my last place (which was my largest). My feelings of enormity will likely be in stark contrast to the future owners of 18-A. Even at 2,770 square feet, it’s likely that buyer will be downsizing not upsizing.
But I suspect we’re both upsizing ceiling heights. Pushing 12-feet with a lot of glass, the views are stunning. The heights in the rooms offer an additional luxury beyond square footage – call it cubic footage. In my younger days, I wanted a high-ceilinged loft. Now I have height without the grittiness of a loft (my aging tastes are more refined).
But even if the future owner of 18-A is used to tall ceilings, they’re unlikely to have had the height coupled with the window space. Add to that the corner views from 18-A are truly grin-worthy. This will be felt in the new open concept kitchen and study. Spending time with these ceiling heights and views make nine-foot ceilings feel cramped.
For me, I look out on many of the high-rise buildings I write about for CandysDirt.com from my B-side perch – the Gold Crest got a new roof recently. It’s also visually interesting to see straight-on at the tops of neighboring high-rises – an angle few see.
But it’s not all views of nearby high-rises, the big perk comes from the long views from Oak Lawn Park up Turtle Creek Park and into Park Cities. These green views aren’t going anywhere unless Dallas starts selling parkland.
Peace and quiet
I value quiet which can be difficult in high-rises that tend towards neighborhoods of high-density living. Because of that, the Claridge, sitting in the middle of the Lemmon Avenues, never said “peaceful” to me.
But it is quieter than I thought. First, dealing with the road noise from half of Lemmon helps. Closely-spaced traffic signals slow cars. Even with the patio doors open, the only car noise that annoys is the occasional Glasspack muffler announcing its owner’s genital deficiencies. Of course, being 18 stories up helps with ground noise, but not noise from above. It’s Oak Lawn, so there is some noise from aircraft servicing Love Field, but the double pane windows muffle it very well.
Oddly, in some ways, The Claridge is quieter than the Athena (and the north side is very quiet). The Athena has single-pane windows that do little to block sound (or conserve energy). The Pink Wall contains dozens of complexes generating the “mow, blow and go” din of countless landscaping services.
Of course, the big reason I wanted to live in this area is because it’s in the thick of Uptown’s restaurants, shops, and the Magnolia theaters. I’m so close to the Kalita Humphries I can use my own bathroom during intermissions. The Katy Trail literally abuts The Claridge and I find myself walking it on most days.
And of course, many of my friends live nearby, making visiting a lot less laborious than deciding if I (really) want to meet for a quick drink when driving from Preston Hollow was part of the equation.
The many conveniences equate to a general sense of being where I want to. It’s got nothing to do with The Claridge per se, it’s the neighborhood.
Of course, it’s not without teething. I learned (after a quick walk) that while Eatzi’s is open until 10 p.m., the deli closes at 8. I learned this at 8:10 p.m., which forced me to drive to Central Market so I had supplies to make my lunch the following day. I can hardly wait for Central Market to open on McKinney and Lemmon.
This is definitely “my” neighborhood and a good building for me. That I’m likely the poorest person in the building and living in a penthouse is the icing on the cake. I’m seriously wondering if this is my last renovation. What’s the trade-up?
I can hardly wait to meet the buyers of 18-A, my future neighbors. They’ll love it here. If that might be you, send a note to the email below.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.