'A tower of mansions' comes to Houston's Tanglewood area in new $300 million high rise
For nearly 70 years, the Farrington/Miller family has handled its development and property management business from an unassuming brick building with a prime address – 1661 Tanglewood. Next spring, those offices will be demolished to make way for construction on what will be the city’s newest luxury condo high-rise, a $300 million building aptly named 1661 Tanglewood.
Kendall Miller, the youngest of the four children of Mary Catherine Miller, a fifth-generation Texan whose father, William Farrington, developed Tanglewood in the late 1940s and early 1950s, said that he and his siblings, Bill, Michelle and Jim Miller, are working together on a project that will launch a new chapter – business-wise, anyway – for the family.
“We started working on it seriously in the summer of 2020 – it was time to refocus the company and make a big transition,” Kendall Miller said of their decision after disposing of some family properties following their mother’s death in 2018. “This is much more in the spirit of the founding of the family business, developing, creating and selling rather than just managing assets. We’re so proud of this. We feel like it might be a crowning achievement, something to send along with the next generation.”
Though few homes or businesses actually have a Tanglewood Boulevard address, that street has long been the most desirable to live directly off of, Miller said.
“We’re leading with the address because we’re proud of it, and because we believe it’s one of the great boulevards in the city, a wonderful promenade. It bridges the suburban feel of Tanglewood and the urban feel of Post Oak,” Miller continued.
While William Farrington launched Tanglewood before Miller was born, he and his siblings have strong memories of growing up in the neighborhood. In fact, after Farrington died, Mary Catherine Miller moved into his house with her family. After she died, Kendall Miller – who has worked for the family business, Tanglewood Corp., for 30 years – moved in.
“There were tall pine trees and football games in the yard. I would ride my bike to the office to steal a Dr. Pepper on the way to a friend’s house. Sometimes I’d get sent to buy Frito’s for dad – that was a fun errand to get sent on. I was always dropping by,” Kendall Miller said.
Condo listings for 1661 Tanglewood will go online Tuesday with Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty. The building’s new sales center at 1880 Uptown Park opens Oct. 3 by appointment only, and its exterior façade mimics the future building’s aesthetic.
The 1661 Tanglewood project will be an elegant, 33-story condo tower with 59 residences on the 1.3-acre parcel at the corner of Tanglewood and San Felipe. Its residences will range from 2,800 square feet to around 12,500 square feet – with most around 5,650 square feet – making it feel less like a stack of downsizing condos and more like a tower of mansions.
Designed by Houston-based Jackson & Ryan Architects with interiors by J. Randall Powers Interior Decoration, the building is meant to evoke the classical forms, symmetry and strict proportion of Palladian architecture, Mary Catherine Miller’s favored style. Tellepsen Construction will be the general contractor and the building is expected to be finished 33 months after work begins.
Jackson & Ryan projects are well known around Houston and elsewhere in Texas. The firm designed the Children’s Museum of Houston, San Antonio Museum of Art, Rice University’s Brockman Hall, Strake Jesuit’s STEM building and Episcopal High School’s Academic Building. They also designed the South Shore District in Austin and animal shelters in Houston, Galveston and San Antonio.
With an exterior façade of brick and limestone, the slender building with Neoclassical details will appear to have a crown on top, with tapered columns surrounding walls of glass. Inside the walls of that top floor will be a 75-foot pool and spa with immediate views of Uptown, extending to downtown.
Powers decorated the sales center with the same finishes he insists on in his residential projects all over the country. Its walls are covered in luxurious fabrics and the bathrooms and kitchen are covered in gorgeous stone and filled with Waterworks plumbing fixtures and hardware.
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While high-rises in Houston generally have residences on the smaller side, 1661 Tanglewood's larger units are meant to appeal to people who still want sizable homes, but without the hassle of maintenance such as pool cleaning and lawn care.
“I did a penthouse (in another high rise in Houston) for a couple moving from a house in River Oaks. I sat down with them and the wife said ‘I have 140 pairs of shoes and a grand piano and I’m not getting rid of any of it,’” Powers said. “There’s such an interesting dynamic about high-rise living. People love the idea of the security, being in a building where you’re protected … but they still want a dining room where they can seat 12 at any given time. A lot of high-rise condos don’t have room for a dining room that can seat 12.”
In addition to designing the sales office, Powers will design public spaces in the tower and has had an influence on the floor plans of each residence. He’ll finish out four residences – furniture, kitchen ware, bedding and all – for buyers who want a move-in ready home.
“I can fill it with Tiffany flatware, Baccarat glasses – I can even put two Mercedes Benzes in your garage if that’s what you want,” Powers quipped. “Think of someone from Central America or Dubai or someone who just got divorced (and is starting over). We can just make it happen.”
For finishes throughout the building, Powers offers appliance packages of French La Cornue or Wolf, Viking and Sub-Zero brands, 9-inch French white oak flooring and Chesneys of London stone fireplace mantels. The beautiful kitchen in the sales center shows off gorgeous stone counters, solid walnut cabinets and a stainless steel La Cornue range, all finished out by Palmer Todd of San Antonio.
The sales center – not usually a space completely filled with luxurious finishes – custom-made furniture, 18th century antiques, Stark carpets and three different bathrooms.
For the tower’s lobby, Powers has chosen a variety of marble and onyx, limestone pilasters, Rose Tarlow furniture and custom-made Voisson Paris crystal chandeliers.
“We’re showing people exactly what they’re going to get in the sales center,” said Powers, who also grew up in Tanglewood and has decorated many homes there. “You’ll see museum quality lighting, solid walnut cabinets – not veneers. You can see Waterworks products right there, not just look at them in a brochure.”