About a year ago, John Ballis Jr. got tired of renting, so the 26-year-old real estate developer purchased a Four Seasons penthouse. Yet not everyone was so impressed with the new address.

“When I first told all my friends I was moving downtown, everyone was like What? People live there?” Ballis remembers.

They quickly discovered their friend wasn’t exactly slumming it. Four Seasons condo dwellers are treated as “permanent guests,” with all the privileges afforded to guests of the hotel. That means room service, maids, and, perhaps best of all, use of the hotel’s car service. “I pretty much just walk or use the driver,” Ballis says. He’s also partial to the building’s extensive gym, which should count for something coming from a former LSU deep snapper.

The two-bedroom unit itself is an airy, open-plan affair appointed in neutral tones and modernist art, and everything from the beds to the dining area to the massive, walk-in closet sits oriented toward the floor-to-ceiling, south-facing windows. From there Ballis can survey the traffic zipping down SH 288 and peep the Med Center skyline in the distance. Look down from his living room on certain evenings, and you can watch the Toyota Center hubbub unfold. The Toronto Raptors were playing the Rockets the day of our visit, and Ballis said we’d probably run into those guys in the lobby if we hung around.

To his friends’ credit, only about 9,800 Houstonians do call downtown home these days, but Ballis assures us that’s changing. “Evidently they’re getting some people buying into the area,” he says, referencing the multiplying construction cranes. And nowadays, whenever the crew’s gearing up for a concert or baseball game or night on Main Street, his is the place to be.

Home Details

  • Size: 2,126 sq. ft.
  • Architect: Laura Manchee Designs
  • Year built: 1982
  • Current owner: John Ballis Jr.