Monday, September 16, 2013
Meet new director at Museum Tower, who “facilitates the spectacular”
She and a team do things like stock the fridge with residents' favorite foods, help secure tickets, or book travel.
It took a bit of time, but the suits at Museum Tower found themselves the perfect candidate for one of the most important positions in the 42-story tall Arts District luxury condominiums: director of resident relations.
She’s Tanya Mendenhall, pronounced “Tan-ya” like a lovely summer tan, and she blends southern hospitality, manners and grace with the sophistication needed to enhance the lives of Museum Tower residents. She’s an LSU grad from Louisiana where finesse and fun are woven into one’s genes.
One might ask, what exactly does the director of resident relations do at Museum Tower?
“I facilitate the spectacular,” says Mendenhall.
Many of the buyers at Museum Tower are, and will be, owners of high net worth who have multiple homes. In a recent survey of 500 affluent homebuyers conducted by Wakefield Research, conducted this past spring, 58% own multiple homes. Further, 53% prefer owning multiple “lifestyle” homes to support recreational activities like skiing, the beach and theater-going. Mendenhall's job is to meet the often demanding needs of an executive family or couple, a jet setter, much as a private house manager/social assistant/concierge might. The difference is that she facilitates the spectacular for 115 homes, with a staff of 8 concierges, and is dedicated to making each one of those owners feel happiest when they put their feet up in Dallas. If Museum Tower is the owner’s ONLY home, she wants to make their life here as smooth, exciting and engaging as possible.
While this is not a novel concept for wealthy homeowners who usually have staff on hand to facilitate their home arrivals and social life when they are in-between residences, it is a unique concept for high rise living in Dallas.
“We don’t know of another luxury high rise community that provides this level of service,” says Steve Sandborg, vice president of sales and marketing for Museum Tower. “It’s another example of how Museum Tower reaches beyond the expected, to the exceptional.”
We visited dear friends at their Hawaii home last October. They have on staff a woman who helps plan events, hire caterers and ready the house prior to their arrival. She even helped plan a huge party. Our friend loves Starbucks coffee, her son loves chocolate chip cookies and the house is stocked with both whenever they arrive.
Then there is the concierge concept. When you buy a luxurious second home in many upscale communities, you pay annual dues for maintenance but also for excellent concierge services: skis out of storage, boats full of gas, a stocked pantry and fridge upon your arrival. (Who wants to waste a whole first day of vacation at the grocery store?) At Calistoga Ranch, near Napa, there is all this, plus a dog bed and water bowl for your pet, a bottle of wine on ice. At Long Cove over at Cedar Creek Lake, your boat will be tuned, gassed, waiting at the dock, and dinner is waiting in the fridge.
And so life at Museum Tower is to be more than just life in a beautiful high rise. There is the wealth of the Arts District outside, the life of an increasingly vibrant downtown. Mendenhall will be the one constant at Museum Tower who will work with the concierge staff to make sure every owner’s time is valued to the utmost degree. She’ll make sure their fridge is stocked with their favorite foods, help secure tickets to Cowboys games or performances at the AT&T Center. With her vast network of connections, she can even get you a place in Santa Fe or a weekend in the Wine Country. She will also plan and execute elegant gatherings at Museum Tower for the exclusive benefit of owners. Such events might be curated art shows, guest speakers, artists, authors or dignitaries. Think Tate Lecture Series on a smaller scale, for a private audience. Salons — for the mind, not the hair.
Mendenhall's background makes her uniquely qualified for the position. First of all, she is a mother to four daughters and lives in University Park. The morning we met she told me she had a houseful of workmen in for a Rusty Goff remodel and no hot water. Yet she was dressed beautifully, Dallas-blonde hair blown dry with a flip, and calm as a cucumber in ice water. She had just been in Santa Fe with Philip Wise, the new owner of Las Campanas. She and her husband, Joe, have lived in a 4,800 square foot home on Purdue since they married. They met in Dallas in the early 1980s, when Mendenhall enjoyed a brief career in commercial real estate. She and her husband almost bought a home in Lake Highlands, then Glen Eagles, but both times the real estate negotiator in her surfaced and she held her line on pricing.
Then they found the house in University Park.
After her first baby, she became involved in non-profits, serving on various civic boards and committees, which turned into a 25 year commitment that is still going strong. Mendenhall is co-chair of the Uplift Education Tailgate Luncheon on May 1, 2014, her co-chair being Melinda Lafitte whose husband, Michael, is global president of CBRE. Tanya’s been involved with a bevy of organizations including founding member of Park Cities National Charity League, chairman of Mad For Plaid Campaign for Highland Park Schools, chairman of Shelton School Auction, chairman of Rotogravure for Dallas Opera, Cattle Baron’s, Susan G. Komen, Highland Park High School, Dallas Opera, Dallas Heart Ball and Aim for Success. Obtaining tickets to any charitable events for Museum Tower owners will be a piece of cake.
“I am a connector,” says Mendenhall, “that is what I do best.”
And now she will be connecting Museum Tower residents, to other residents or events, or to Dallas. It will take creativity.
“Every single person here is an entrepreneur of some type,” she says, “they think outside of the box, so I have to think outside the box!”
How does she do that? One Museum Tower home owner recently asked her for help planning an event for when a lot of family came to town. Mendenhall facilitated. She found a venue, caterers, rentals, servers and extra valets. Mendenhall even found something unique for the guests to experience: a painting party.
“We set up easels, had paint and all the supplies, and everyone painted a painting,” she said.
And since Dallas is also a city that, for better or worse, is spread out all over tarnation, Museum Tower has a town car on call for guests. If parent are out and wish to linger a bit later than the children, they can arrange to have the Lincoln Navigator fetch them back home to Museum Tower. Buy at Museum Tower, you essentially have your own Uber!
Every Thursday evening Mendenhall hosts a Happy Hour for Museum Tower owners, to facilitate meeting each other. And she creates special owner events — like Kent Rathbun cooking a chef’s dinner for everyone in in one of the beautiful common areas available to owners.
The Lake Charles, Louisiana native loves to cook and still does — one daughter is still at home, at Highland Park High School. But don’t expect Mendenhall to cook or cater for residents. Recently, owners did ask her to remain as a guest at an event she had put together, but that’s where she steps back, makes sure everything is in place, and heads home to her family. Once Mendenhall has facilitated the fun, her mission is complete.
“She is the "queen of finesse" says Barbara Buzzell, PR liaison for Museum Tower. “They had been looking for someone to take this position for more than a year.”
Like most good things in life and in art, Mendenhall was worth waiting for.
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