Justin Ishbia, the billionaire private equity investor who in 2020 paid $23.9 million for three parcels on Lake Michigan in Winnetka as part of a complicated land swap with the Winnetka Park District, is proving to be a buyer of high-priced residential real estate in the city as well as on the North Shore.
Ishbia, who is the founder and managing partner of Chicago-based private equity firm Shore Capital Partners, has been revealed as the buyer who paid $12.5 million last year through a trust for a newly built, 8,229-square-foot mansion in Lincoln Park. That purchase was the second-highest price paid by anyone for a single-family house within Chicago’s city limits in 2021, and it’s one of the five highest recorded sale prices ever for a house within the city.
Ishbia purchased the Lincoln Park mansion from Jeffrey Applebaum, according to public records. The brick mansion, which has a swimming pool in its backyard, was designed by Rugo/Raff Ltd. Architects and was finished by Tom Stringer Design Partners.
Ishbia’s Lincoln Park mansion purchase is in addition to the 30th-floor condo that he owns in the building at 9 W. Walton Street, which he bought in 2018 through a Delaware limited liability company for $5.57 million. Ishbia shares a real estate presence in the building at 9 W. Walton Street with another billionaire, Ken Griffin, who since 2017 has owned the top four floors of that building but still hasn’t moved in. Griffin, who made news recently by announcing that he would relocate his Citadel alternative investment firm to Miami, paid $58.75 million for the four floors of 9 W. Walton Street.
Ishbia did not respond to a request for comment. Susan Miner of Premier Relocation, who represented both Ishbia and Applebaum in the $12.5 million Lincoln Park deal, could not be reached for comment. However, several public records confirm that Ishbia was the buyer of the Lincoln Park mansion.
Last year, Elite Street identified Ishbia as the mystery buyer who paid $23.9 million through two trusts in 2020 for three parcels — only two of which were contiguous — along Lake Michigan. Ishbia had privately struck a deal with Winnetka parks officials to donate to them a keystone 71-foot-wide lakefront parcel that would make Elder Lane Park and Centennial Park contiguous in exchange for an identically sized parcel at the south end of Centennial Park that Ishbia would then combine with the two other parcels that he had purchased. The arrangement allowed Ishbia to create a 3.3-acre lakefront homesite — an almost unheard-of size for a lakefront homesite on the North Shore in Cook County — at a total land assembly cost of $23.9 million.
Ishbia’s land swap agreement required the park district to use “commercially reasonable efforts” to keep his identity private. However, Ishbia came forward to identify himself at the Winnetka Park District’s June 16 board meeting, and he agreed, in response to public objections, to drop plans to build a louvered, or slatted, beach wall atop a curved stone breakwater between his property and the park district’s property. Now, park officials are devising plans for a redesign of the unified park property and beach to try to balance residents’ concerns about beach views with Ishbia’s desire for privacy.
In the meantime, Ishbia made clear at the June 16 meeting that he will hold off on transferring the keystone property to the park district until all approvals are finished.
Separately, in January 2021, Ishbia, through a trust, paid $36 million to buy the six-bedroom, 18,172-square-foot, Mediterranean-style La Capanna mansion on the Gulf of Mexico in Naples, Fla. from Robert A. Watson, the former president and CEO of units of Westinghouse and TransAmerica.
Goldsborough is a freelance writer.
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