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Views from the Cosmopolitan’s penthouse take in Downtown, Memorial Park, Greenway Plaza and the Galleria.


Abode & Beyond

By Ray Dennison

Nancy Almodovar photo by Grant Foto


Despite one of the most costly natural disasters in U.S. history, Houston’s real estate market is rebounding and stronger than ever. Here’s the scoop on what’s climbing to the top.

Up in the Air
Cranes dot the skyline, and Houston looks more like Legoland each day. Here’s the city’s most expensive move-in-ready penthouse.

Listed for $7.5 million, the penthouse at the Cosmopolitan tops the list of the city’s most expensive completed high-rise listings. The nearly 8,000-square-foot, two-floor unit is perched atop the 23-story tower, completed by developer Randall Davis in 2008. Two private elevators open into the foyer and living room, and dramatic vistas include a straight-shot view of the Galleria and Williams Tower down Post Oak Boulevard. There are two kitchens—one for catering, of course—a wine room, four bedrooms, four full baths and two powder rooms. On the second floor, find a private party room and 1,000-square-foot deck with a garden, hot tub and entertaining areas. A private four-car garage is seperate from general parking, and building amenities include an infinity-edge pool, gym and 24-hour concierge service. It’s ideal for a lock-and-leave lifestyle, but with all it has to offer, why would anyone want to leave? 1600 Post Oak Blvd., Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty

Hollywood at Home
Controlling lights, window shades and alarm systems remotely is now a standard in the home tech industry, but private theaters to rival Imax still remain the ultimate luxury. “[They] start at $50,000 and can quickly rise to more than $100,000 for custom seating, acoustic treatments, and premium speakers and electronics,” says Ryan Miller of Refined Systems, one of Houston’s top home tech installation companies. For the ultimate experience, Miller turns to Kaleidescape, an entertainment player that delivers visual and audio qualities better than most commercial theaters. Now, the company is in talks with major Hollywood studios with plans to start delivering films to homes the same day as their theatrical release. Popcorn not included. 

River Oaks’ Groveland estate

The pool at River Oaks’ Groveland estate is modeled after a similar reflecting pond at Bayou Bend, and a French-doored party pavilion sits just to the left.

Well Manored
Sprawling gardens, green lawns and a restored manor house turn back the clock in stately River Oaks.

River Oaks’ Groveland estate, designed by historic local architect Birdsall Briscoe and finished in 1936, is on the market for $12.9 million. The gardens and grounds cover more than an acre, framed by majestic sprawling oaks, and the registered historical landmark was just restored by the previous owner. The 7,000-square-foot main house has four bedrooms, and a unique pavilion house makes for ideal entertaining and is decorated in the style of Singapore’s British colonial-era Raffles Hotel. “Groveland was a once-in-a-lifetime residential restoration project,” owner Paula Douglass says. “It is our hope that it will always be preserved, to provide respite for all who are blessed to come within her walls and grounds.” 3229 Groveland Lane, John Daugherty Realtors,

Here Comes the Son
A real estate maven and her son build an empire.

Beth Wolff started her eponymous company in 1978 and sold her first property within 30 days. “There were not a lot of opportunities for women at the time,” she says, remembering the challenges. “I lived the bridge of women moving from homemakers into the workforce.” Watching all the while, her son, Ed, learned a great deal about perseverance and diplomacy. “To me, leadership is leadership [regardless of gender],” he says. Now, the two together preside over the firm, which lists many of Houston’s luxury properties, and serve as a rare example of a son taking on his mother’s company. They are both heavily involved in the community as well, focusing largely on health and education causes. Ed has also recently served on committees to map and address flooding—both of their homes took on water during Harvey—and they are committed to the city’s recovery and future. “I feel grateful that I could make a living here,” Beth says. “I believe in the opportunity this city has for people. I do anything I can to promote it.”

High Altitude
The Rocky Mountain playground for the rich and famous breaks records with new spec homes.

Aspen, Colo.—often referred to as the Hamptons of Texas—has long been a top retreat for the social set, and the mountain town features some of the country’s most expensive properties. The latest spec home, Tiehack House by Bowden Development, hits the market at $34 million. Sitting on 3 acres overlooking the world-famous Maroon Creek Club, the 13,690-square-foot, eight-bedroom home boasts an outdoor kitchen, home theater, billiards room, wine cellar and spa. Downtown and ski lifts are a stone’s throw away, and the property is available fully furnished. Just grab your toothbrush and gas up the jet or catch one of United’s direct flights—it’s mountain time! 

Nancy Almodovar

Nancy Almodovar

Secret Agent
Realtor Nancy Almodovar gets creative, building a company that thinks beyond the cookie cutter.

Well-heeled women admire Hermès Birkin bags while waiters pass out Champagne and paparazzi swarm outside. This is not a Hollywood house party—it’s an open house by Nancy Almodovar. “People search for homes differently now,” the savvy 36-year-old biz wiz says. “We get a ton of our business from social media and marketing.” Almodovar began her own company at age 18 and got into real estate to help pay for college. Now, she’s the president and CEO of Nan and Company Properties, which last year became an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. “It was like winning the lottery. We now have great access to their network, continuing education opportunities and international exposure,” she says. Properties in her portfolio include Theresa Roemer’s The Woodlands manse—with that famous closet—a 4-acre compound in Piney Point and a historic mansion on West Lane. Out of the office, she’s also an active mom, walks her two Maltese dogs each morning, and avidly attends yoga and spin classes. “Life is all about a healthy balance.”

Health, Home and Happiness
The Texas Medical prepares for its next growth phase, and residential property developers are tracking the pulse.

In April, the Texas Medical Center, and top medical schools including Baylor, Texas A&M and The University of Texas, announced plans for TCM3. South of Brays Bayou, the development adds 30 acres of real estate and more than 1.5 million square feet for medical research and development to what is already the largest medical complex in the world. It is projected to generate 30,000 new jobs and $5.2 billion for the local economy, and will feature an elevated public park by James Corner, the landscape architect behind New York City’s High Line. Several residential towers, like the futuristic 22-story Vantage Med Center that opened last year, already dot the area, mostly on the edges of Hermann Park, but more are in the works. This summer, luxury hotel group InterContinental checks in with a new high-rise, also at 22 floors; and Latitude, a 35-story development overlooking Rice University, will become the district’s tallest residence upon opening.