How Bill Stern Turned Space at the Top of the Four Seasons Hotel into a Sleek Downtown Penthouse



Four Seasons Hotel, 1111 Caroline St., Downtown HoustonBy day and by night, a swish penthouse in the 1982 Four Seasons tower downtown ensures a panoramic view from rooms throughout the open floor plan. Understated, light-filled, and seamlessly sleek in its 2006 design by notable Houston architect Bill Stern, who died last year, the luxury condo maxes out minimalism. In mid-September, after its owners left town, the highrise home’s asking price dropped to $3.85 million; its initial ask in April was $4.6 million.



Think of the 4,776-sq-ft. floor plan as a linked series of 3 zones, the listing suggests. First up and off the entry (above), Zone 1 lines up the living, dining, and kitchen areas, each of which gets a bay window:


In the dining area, a stretch of interior wall hides storage:


Shelving captures space under one side of the adjacent kitchen’s prep tops:



Wine “cellar” capacity? A mere 1,000 bottles.


An open corridor runs along sections of the unit’s perimeter windows, making linked rooms that are private, but not entirely enclosed. Zone 2’s library and media room, for example, terminate in the master bedroom suite:



There’s a sitting area on the way to the sleeping end of the room:


Frosted glass on an interior wall diffuses light into the master bathroom:



One of the master closets gets a window . . .


the other features built-in drawers:


Zone 3 has 2 bedrooms that share a den:


As with other rooms, each bedroom has a bunch of built-ins, in this case a desk and drawers under the picture window, open shelving, and a wall-hugging bed surrounded by cabinets:



When night falls, the backdrop turns on the twinkle:




As do the surrounding towers in the twilight:


The Four Seasons Hotel operates below the 30-plus luxury condos that have occupied the top 5 floors of the building since a 2005 repurposing by the hotel’s previous owner. Condo residents have access to hotel amenities. This condo’s monthly maintenance fee is $4,071.

Other, less minimalist units on the market include a smaller penthouse unit (currently under contract), and a 2-bedroom, 2-bath unit down one floor.

The Lookout

6 Comment

  • The Four Seasons building is possibly my least favorite building in downtown Houston — aside from the entirely vacant skyscrapers that should have been demo’ed decades ago — but I *really* can’t fault this condo. (Okay, *barely* fault. The MBR is a wee bit too minimalist for my tastes.) Actually, this is nearly exactly how I’d decorate the place myself if I had a spare-no-expense budget, all the way down to the George Nakashima dining table (which btw is worth around $100K all by itself, not counting the Hans Wegner wishbone chairs surrounding it).

    That said, it’s trumped by a condo currently on the market at the Four Seasons Residences in Austin (located adjacent to the hotel, not in it):

    Yep: $12 million for a two-bedroom condo … and it’s not even the penthouse. If it sells for anything close to that price, it’ll easily smash the record for the priciest condo in Austin history – in terms of both total sale price and price psf.

    But wait! There’s more! The real kicker here is the *actual* penthouse — which a) consumes the entire 31st floor of the building and b) is 12,200 sq ft to the above unit’s 5200. Although its owner is a well-known Austin gazillionaire, the penthouse itself is shrouded in secrecy; no one knows what he paid for it, except for the fact that he purchased both of the two units on the top floor and combined them. A handful of people, myself included, have seen the comparatively small portion of the flat he uses as a public space for fundraisers and whatnot, but few know what the rest of the place looks like.

    Anyway, I’m getting off-topic. I’m very curious to see what Bill Gates does with the Four Seasons here; I’m not entirely sure why he bought it in the first place (he’s not really known for having a portfolio of properties, unlike Paul Allen or Steve Ballmer – both of whom, of course, own NBA teams, among many other things).

  • blue jeans on hangers with every shad of light blue to be had, how affronting. but how on earth do you sell a penthouse with an $850K tax value (from 2010) for $3.5MM? this city really needs to get those taxes raised and caught up with the property market or we really do have big issues moving forward.

  • Very nice. Love it, but this man needs a balcony to live in a high-rise. Bill Gates bought the building, right? Perhaps he could festoon some balconies up that sky house.

  • Bill Gates / Cascade Investments owns almost half of Four Seasons hotel management company… Saudi prince owns the other half

  • @ joel , you must be an apartment dweller because every living person in Houston who owns a home/property and isn’t living on a trust fund wants that tax number to be as low as possible and that market value to be as high as possible. ask just about anyone in Harris county whether or not the tax man is trying to get those numbers closer to market cap based on the letters that went out earlier this year from HCAD and you will find that he’s working hard at getting closer to your Utopian State where we can all frolic in fields of daisies while everyone “Pays their fair share”

  • I was originally going to comment that it is a great space, but the naked pics prove how much value proper staging and photography add to a listing.