In 2013, when I secured the building permits required to renovate my Athena condo, I was on the permitting office’s doorstep New Year’s morning and within a couple of hours, I left, permits in hand. When I returned a year later to get new permits to renovate the master bathroom, a similar timeline played out.

In the ensuing years since that simple, efficient timeline for simple renovation projects, the permitting office has vanished into bureaucracy, poor staffing and civil servitude. Instead of hours or even days, my permit took a full two-months to be issued – and it wasn’t because of me.

For those just joining the Penthouse Plunge series, on September 3, I purchased a 5,311-square-foot double penthouse at The Claridge on Turtle Creek. It had been on the market for four years with over $1 million in price reductions – and hadn’t been touched in 25 years. The combined floor plan didn’t work and so the only solution is to separate the units back into their original, as-built sizes and original-ish configurations.  And that’s just what I’m doing, with an endgame of selling the 2,770-square-foot corner A-unit (two bedrooms with study) and living in the B-unit forevermore. Penthouse Plunge follows the ups and downs of the renovation process and eventual sale.

Back to permitting (and its interminable waiting) which is part of the city department of Sustainable Development and Construction.

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Jessica Koltun, a Realtor with The Associates, has found her niche in the real estate industry focusing branding for both new construction and renovations. While she doesn’t miss the chance to swing a sledgehammer, she’s just as passionate about building strategic marketing campaigns for her clients. She leverages her interior design experience, her attention to detail, and her market savvy to give the properties she represents a serious leg up. Of course, it’s taken some trial and error to develop these strategies, and in the process, Koltun has found that Realtors often lack the tools to really make the most of their marketing efforts. 

Right now, her work with Kalterra Court really speaks to that experience. It’s fresh and exciting, and considering how many properties we see on a weekly basis, that’s saying something.

Want to revamp your marketing strategy? Ready to take your listings to the next level? Here’s some sage advice from Koltun:

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On May 12, I posted a column on the coming sale of my home at the Athena. On May 14, it was listed in the MLS for $530,000. The home was under contract in seven days with the first (of many) people who toured (and still tour).

Including my home, there are currently five properties in the Athena for buyers to choose from. The others have been listed between five and nine months – and for less money. Why did my home get buyers’ interest so quickly?  Renovation.

Those who toured left comments that included:

“Absolutely stunning home in the sky! Please let me know if the current contract does not work out!” “It is lovely,” and, “This is a beautiful unit with the finest of materials used on the remodel.” And specific to the Athena, of those I spoke with, all appreciated my having an open balcony.

It’s no secret that buyers want move-in homes. But buyers in the older demographic the Pink Wall trades in really want move-in ready homes.  Properties requiring six-figure renovations with their associated hassles are a lot less appealing.

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Photos courtesy Full Package Media

The Athena is one of those buildings with really good, quite large floorplans coupled with HOA dues that pay for everything including utilities, cable, and internet. Located in Preston Hollow, it’s perfect for those downsizers not wanting to leave the area as well as those seeking easy access to the Dallas Tollway and Central. However, being an older building, finding a renovated unit isn’t always easy.

Enter unit 1111, soon to be on the market. And if I seem to be a bit enthusiastic about this place, I come by it honestly — it’s the home I put my heart and soul into remodeling. A new job means it’s time to move on to my next renovation (in the Metroplex).

What was once a three bedroom, three bathroom unit has been reconfigured into a more spacious two bedroom and three bathroom unit. It boasts 1,899 square feet, plus it is one of the rare units with its glorious 28-foot long balcony intact.

Note: Those familiar with the Athena will know the original walls were heavily textured (crow’s foot) – this unit has smooth walls and no popcorn ceilings. The property will be listed by Robert Blackman at Solvent Realty Group.

As you can see from the picture above, there’s a lot more that’s was done during its stem-to-stern renovation. Let’s have a look …

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Condo

Regardless of the configuration, this is the gorgeous view.

Editor’s note: Jon Anderson is a columnist for CandysDirt.com. His opinions are his own.

The following was adapted from a series of emails about how to possibly divide a double unit in the Claridge into two units. With help from the current Realtor, could we help this prospective condo buyer out? Read and see.

Dear Jonny: I saw your column last week about Claridge unit 5D and hoped maybe you can help me.  I’m sure you’re aware of the Claridge’s double-unit 18A/B penthouse that’s been for sale since 2015. The years have seen several price reductions, knocking more than a million off its original $2.65 million. It might finally be within my grasp – kinda. Like you, I am a renovator and feel the price now takes a needed renovation into account. But here’s the thing, at 5,311 square feet, it’s too big for me. Also, the floorplan of the two combined units doesn’t work. It creates a very long space that originally had five bedrooms, six full bathrooms and two half bathrooms – as you know, Claridge units have full his/hers master bathrooms.

The current real estate agent is Sharon Quist with Dave Perry-Miller whom I think you know. According to Sharon, the current owner wants to sell the unit whole and not re-divide it. Here’s my dilemma and request – could you look at the floor plan and create options for dividing the unit?  I saw your reimagining of the 3525 Turtle Creek unit and the one at the Gold Crest and thought maybe if agents and buyers saw the options, it might bring another buyer and myself together on a real estate-style “blind date”.

  • Goldilocks

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renovation wasn't easy but worth it

5700 Westover Court went through an extensive renovation to become what it is today. (Photos: Realty Pro Shots)

If you mention that you are working on a renovation project what are the common themes that everyone seems to want to tell to you?

  • Renovation projects always are longer than expected
  • Renovation projects are always over budget

While those statements are often true,  there is another mantra regarding renovation projects that should be included as well. 

  • Renovation projects (when done correctly) are worth it!

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Hill Country Contemporary 5531 Boca Raton Dr 1

Once in a while we see a house and think, wow, it checks every single box a buyer wants. This Hill Country contemporary at 5531 Boca Raton is a great example of getting it absolutely right.

Hunter Dehn and Laura Baynham of The Hunter Dehn Group  just listed this 4,253-square-foot home in Inwood Road Estates for $1.395 million. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, it’s right across the Dallas North Tollway from The Lamplighter School and The Hockaday School. You can also be downtown in minutes — talk about a great location.

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7141 Grand Oaks RoadBlair and Chelsea Green are big fans of Flipping Out, Bravo’s reality remodeling series. This gorgeous Preston Hollow contemporary at 7141 Grand Oaks Road is their latest flip, although they don’t really ever intend to flip — it’s just worked out that way.

The couple already have very full plates. Blair is a commercial real estate attorney and Chelsea is the chief operating officer of a law firm.

“We were trying to buy our first house a few years ago and wanted to live in Dallas to be close to our jobs,” Blair said. “We either had to buy a really small house or a property that needed work. We found a house that needed some TLC and during remodeling realized we enjoyed the process.” (more…)