What happens when you don’t bulldoze a vibrant urban core for an urban office park? Austin. What happens 60 years later when you finally realize the huge mistake you made? Houston and Dallas. What happens when you want the very best pied-à-terre in Austin? You head to the Austonian at 200 Congress Avenue. And putting the “high” in highfalutin is unit 50T.
Yes, the 50th floor. It’s not even the highest unit in this building but it’s still eight floors above Dallas’ tallest residence. It’s a 4,845-square-foot, three-bedroom unit with four full and one half bathrooms. This decked out unit is listed with Christie’s affiliate Eric Moreland with Moreland Properties for $7.25 million. Oh, and add another 468 square feet of balcony space spread across three outdoor areas. Levels 55 and 56 are an added bonus of resident space (like Dallas’ Mayfair). I like buildings that reserve the best views for everyone, not just the penthouse owners.
The building itself is in the thick of Austin swing. On the streets below, you’re two blocks from the Colorado River, Lady Bird Lake, and Austin’s famous bat bridge. You’re also a hop-skip to the Four Seasons Hotel, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Oilcan Harry’s, and the Austin music scene. And let’s not forget being a short mile from Franklin Barbeque and Amy’s Ice Creams (you’ll feel less guilty if you walk to those).
Buyers get a spectacular finish-out for their $1,500 per square foot. In the main living room you can’t see the Italian travertine floors (covered by an oversize custom rug), but you can see the detail. Pictures not nailed to the wall but attached to the ceiling with an updated picture rail system with custom lighting. Also note the reflective ceiling that bounces light to ensure even brightness.
The dining room replaced the bright convivial living room with an intimate space even though the table obviously seats a dozen with ease. The dark paneling frames the view of the origami roof crowning the Frost Bank building. Being fresh off my countertop series, the dining table appears to be slab Amazonite feldspar (call it $300 per square foot). At the end of the room is the wine storage … for over 450 bottles. You’re seeing the red but around the far corner there’s a seating area and refrigeration for white and champagne. It’s quite a large space. In addition to the swank stone dining table, there’s a petrified wood countertop on the wet bar.
For me, the kitchen is the WOW room. Of course the view takes the cake, but baking the cake is pretty noteworthy too. Aside from surplus wine or mail storage, look at the back wall. The cabinets are glass. Not just glass inserts in the doors, but all glass on every side … even the bottom cabinets. The upper cabinets use the ceiling-height mirror backsplash to dramatic effect. The range is a $10,000-plus French La Canache (not La Cornue) with a smattering of Miele and SubZero backup. Furthering the French theme, the floors are French oak. If you’re a sloppy cook (like me), there’s a whole butler’s pantry and prep area in back of this showpiece.
See what I mean? This is a darn nice master bedroom, but you’re still thinking about that kitchen, right? The views here are of Lady Bird Lake and the Colorado River, a calming response to the city views out of the other windows.
The room is obviously plenty big and has his and hers bathrooms and closets. But look at how space is apportioned. “Her” bath has a balcony and windows while “his” has no natural light.
Aside from the space and window disparity, being a guy, the “his” decor suits me just fine. While not a vessel sink fan, the room is what every boy dreams about. The slab marble wall suits the bench perfectly. Or course once you see the enormity of her bathroom and particularly closet, you’ll see that, regardless how perfect this is, the man has gotten gypped again.
On the other hand, her bath is more of a party space. Yes, the “her” closet is more closely sized for an automobile (or two) than clothes. There’s even a “gown room” … for gowns I suppose. Where you see that zig-zag carpet, there’s a seating area with a desk, perhaps a throwback to the time when royalty entertained in their bedrooms?
See what I mean? It’s an office meeting room in a closet. Perhaps were I a woman capable of spending $7 million on a home this space wouldn’t leave me so utterly confused.
One thing that doesn’t leave me confused is this. Who knows what skyline changes are in the future, but for now you’re literally above it all being in the tallest residential high-rise west of the Mississippi River.
They say that if you walk far enough you will eventually meet yourself. For Dallasites looking for an Austin getaway with a Museum Tower look, it’s not a far walk. And I gotta be honest, the Colorado River offers better scenery than the Rio Woodall Rodgers.
Remember: When I’m not stirring up trouble in Dallas, Texas or Honolulu, Hawaii for Candysdirt.com and SecondShelters.com, I’m off scouting interesting locations for a second home. 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. If you’re a Realtor with second home clients who’d like me to feature their journey, shoot me an email email@example.com