One of four NOT Chihuly chandeliers for sale

Once you’ve checked out the Elite Auctions preview of 11322 E. Ricks Circle on Sept. 14, join me from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Claridge (3510 Turtle Creek Blvd., Units 18 A and B) for your chance to tour my Penthouse Plunge before demolition as I revive and return two Turtle Creek penthouses to their glory, and one to the market. 

Renovate: Reuse and Recycle

Every renovation has items from the existing home that no longer work with the new design. For my Athena renovation, I donated appliances, built-in cabinetry, lighting, doors and frames plus bathroom fixtures. The Claridge penthouses are no different. In and amongst the wine and nibbles, you’ll see what doesn’t fit with my plans and so is being donated, bartered, and frankly, for sale to anyone interested.

Respectful renovation isn’t the HGTV spectacle of sledgehammer-wielding destruction. It’s about taking a few minutes and finding a new home for eminently usable items that just aren’t “you.”

For example, kitchen and bathroom cabinets would be welcomed by housing charities. Ditto doors, windows, faucets, etc. You’re doing good and getting a tax write-off.

So far, in the “for sale” bin are four NOT-Chihuly chandeliers – one in each entry and two in the office (and my future bedroom). The clear/white one seen above is in the B-unit entry.

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Blueprint of remodeled Claridge 18-A-unit

I’d sketched enough plans to feel comfortable taking the Penthouse Plunge remodel of a double-penthouse at the Claridge on Turtle Creek. To review,  I’ll be restoring the combined 5,311-square-foot unit back into two infinitely more livable spaces. But my work isn’t good enough for building permits. That’s the subject of this column – getting to permit phase.

Before you begin a major renovation, you need to know what you’re doing – and not just in your head. So you’ll need blueprints prepared by a professional, and not just to get errant thoughts on paper.  First of all, major renovations – especially those in multi-family complexes – will need building permits. The governing HOA will want to know that the work is being inspected by professionals and that plans meet code requirements. With few exceptions, HOAs are not comprised of people in the construction trades.

The second reason for blueprints is to get accurate quotes from tradespeople and contractors. It will also help spec out what things you’ll need to buy – toilets, drawer pulls, tile, etc.

But how do you find the right resources to draw up your plans?  That’s where it gets interesting.

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Back in March, I wrote a column about a mystery buyer wanting a partner-in-renovation to separate a double penthouse listing at The Claridge on Turtle Creek. Unit 18 A/B had been on the market for four years with three agents during which it had over $1 million in price reductions. That mystery buyer was me. I’d hoped to find someone interested in separating the units with each of us going our own renovation way – to no avail.

A few were interested in carving up the 5,311-square-foot unit, but they wanted so much space that it made the remaining B-unit unsalable – one wanting to leave me an oversized studio with only a half bath.

So I noodled and penciled for weeks and weeks trying to get someone to see the investment potential. I spoke with a banker to seek an investor or flipper. No dice.  So I noodled and penciled some more. In the end, a deal was struck with the help of all parties, including the seller’s agent, Sharon Quist from Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate. We all found a way for me to buy the whole freaking thing. According to Quist, “I’ve never done a deal like this in 40 years.”

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Those of elephantine memories will recall my writing in 2015 about a 12,370-square-foot shell penthouse at the Vendome. Even though the Vendome was built in 2002, the home had never been finished out. The first owner had purchased three penthouses with the intention of creating a singularly spectacular home 20 stories above Turtle Creek. It never happened and was put on the market a decade later – after having paid an estimated $1.5 million in property taxes and HOA dues.

Flash forward and the combined space was purchased by an investor who has returned them to a trio of penthouses that are being finished out as you read. The framing and drywall are up and so it was time to take a peek. They’re still nothing more than large empty spaces so not a lot to see. But there are floorplans, which are immensely helpful to understand the flow of each unit.

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804 - Living 3

For better or worse, we all make snap judgements when we see houses.  My first thought as I looked through the pictures for this home was that there didn’t appear to be a comfortable seat in the house.  It’s as though some unseen maiden aunt had eschewed comfort for herself and guests.

My second thought was that the wood floors look spectacular.  Regardless of whether you like the pattern, you have to admit they’re really well done.

The third thought I had was how completely different this home is to its neighboring penthouse, 801 featured in Vol. 1.  While 801 may attract groovy, middle-aged buyers, the buyer of 804, located just a few feet away, would seem to be generationally different.

But would they?

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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.

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"Island Living" with the City as your Oyster

“Island Living” with the City as your Oyster

Jim Croce sang that “the south side of Chicago is the baddest part of town.” And now, thanks to years of work, Dallas’ South Side district, otherwise known as The Cedars, is the baddest part of Dallas. CandysDirt.com is bringing you the exclusive pre-listing peep at the most unique space in the neighborhood.

Unlike the cardboard streetscape of West Village, The Cedars retains many original structures, dominated by the South Side on Lamar warehouse condo conversion. This gives the area a rough-and-tumble, more organically grown vibe. Sure there are new buildings like The Beat, the first high-rise south of Interstate 30 in memory, but it’s not all there is.

The area was full of warehouses and light industrial along with some ’60s and ’70s satellite corporate offices. The Beat is even across from an aging IBM outpost. Given the unkemptness of the building, one supposes it houses the remaining OS/2 Warp tech support team (brownie points if you get THAT reference! Cheaters gonna cheat.).

The Beat also borders light rail, making commuting to the city core and beyond a breeze. A few second walk to Lamar Street opens up many hip dining and “joint” options (Cedars Social, Poor David’s). For those uncomfortable with hip … well, there’s always “corporate hip” Gilley’s.

Note: Before imbibing in the area, line up a nearby Cowboy Cab or designated driver. There’s a big ol’ calaboose anchoring the area.

NYLO Rooftop Pool for Lounge Chair Lovelies

NYLO Rooftop Pool for Lounge Chair Lovelies

There’s even a neighboring corporate-hip hotel called NYLO (New York London, I believe). Of course, corporate hip is never really hip (there’s a Plano outpost for gosh sakes), but it’s often nice. How corporate? These acronym lovers have a credo summarized by DELIVER – D is for Design, E is for Entertain … (barf). But in addition to the accommodations, hotel bar and restaurant proximity, it’s the rooftop pool that’s the true amenity for The Beat. You see, the tragically hip are often young lovelies who parade around in skimpy swimming costumes. Beer and a well-placed telescope fulfill some Beat owners’ needs on a summer’s afternoon.

Anywhooo …

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The French-Inspired Vendome

The French-Inspired Vendome

Basking in the metaphorical Marlboro-hazed afterglow of the recent Exxxotica confab, I remembered there’s another penthouse stripped down to its skivvies and waiting to be dressed up. This time it’s the Vendome’s 12,370-square-foot penthouse 20 D/E/F being marketed by Dallas high-rise pioneer herself Judy Pittman.

No, I didn’t slip a decimal point, it is twelve-thousand, three hundred and seventy square feet. Lay those square feet out in a single line, it would be 2.34 MILES LONG. As if that weren’t enough, there are nine parking spaces (perfect for Airbnb guests). As you face Vendome, it’s basically the whole left end of the 2-story mansard roof.

And I never thought I’d type these words, but at $3.73-million, it may just be considered a bargain! That’s $301 a square foot. Figure another $200-ish a foot to outfit it into the most swish pad in Dallas. In the end, you’ve got a massive and massively personalized home that’s still kinda a bargain.

Especially when compared with some other more tumbledown 4,000-6,000 square foot “cottage” penthouses floating around Dallas you’d probably gut anyway. After all, if you’ve got this kinda change in your sofa, you’re going to want to put your imperator on the place, right? Heck, I know I do and my imperator is stamped in Glidden!

Note: I actually saw a 2-person chapel 10-feet from the master bed in one penthouse recently. This prompted me to ask what happened in that room that forgiveness was needed so quickly.

Buyers wanting a little privacy are in luck. There may be three units on the 20th floor – another owner-occupied 12-thousand footer and a third, 5,086 square foot maisonette – but with your own elevator bank, none of them will be sending pesky servants over for a cup of sugar. At least not in the normal way …

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