When the sun sets on San Antonio, the view from Debra Jones and husband Robin Gould’s high-rise home gets all dressed up for the evening. “It has a ‘Wow!’ night view,” Jones said.
A dazzling array of downtown lights in the panoramic scene appears nightly outside the floor-to-ceiling glass walls of the couple’s junior penthouse at the at Alteza Residences atop the Grand Hyatt San Antonio. “You don’t bring artwork, because the city is the artwork,” she said of living area walls that offer unobstructed views of downtown.
In their “front yard,” the retired executives get to watch the evolution of HemisFair and construction that has hollowed out the old Joske’s portion of Rivercenter mall. Compelling scenery of the city in motion includes the River Walk and the Alamo. “I tell everyone, ‘I can see the Alamo from my house,’” Jones said, referencing Sarah Palin’s line about Russia.
The couple, newlyweds at the time, discovered San Antonio five years ago. Gould said Oregon’s seemingly never-ending winter and ever-increasing taxes instigated their search for a second home. Austin consistently turned up on lists of best places to live, so they took a look. On the last day of the trip they decided to check out San Antonio.
“We wanted to live in town, walk to restaurants,” he noted. In a 4½ hour whirlwind visit, the couple looked at the under-construction Alteza and several other high-rises, dined along the River Walk and bought a one-bedroom unit at Vidorra.
During their first winter as temporary Texans they decided to make San Antonio their permanent residence, which meant selling their Oregon house and finding something bigger here. A two-bedroom condominium on the 28th floor of Alteza — Spanish for lofty height — became their new home. Two years ago, they moved again, two floors up, to the junior penthouse, a three-bedroom, two-story corner unit.
The floor plan has the living area and master bedroom on the 30th floor and two other bedrooms and a second living area on the 31st floor. A half-wall of glass blocks in the original master bedroom blocked part of the view, so Gould and Jones converted that space to an office and moved upstairs for a full city view from their bedroom.
Having been through downsizing —“You only bring your loved, loved stuff,” Jones said — the couple, mindful of the view, was selective about furniture and chose tables with glass tops.
“We tried to do very minimalistic because I feel like you have to see through things to see out,” she explained.
Her “loved, loved stuff” displayed around the house includes Asian art and chests she acquired while living in Singapore, necklaces bought from a Bedouin peddler in an African desert, sculpture from France and a few stone sculpture pieces that she made herself.
Gould, who used to have a three-car garage loaded with tools in Oregon, gets by with one small tool drawer in the utility closet. When something breaks, the couple calls the condominium manager for repairs.
“It’s a lifestyle that gives you that freedom to not worry about anything with your home anymore,” Jones said. “In this kind of a building you get to lock the door and walk away,” she said.
“It’s a pretty easy way to live.”
Chrissie Murnin is a San Antonio freelance writer.