Monday, May 20, 2024

Island Market

USA: Restaurant Mogul Buys a Minnesota Private Island Retreat

The placid waters of Lake Minnetonka are home to a spectacular private island retreat with a chequered past and a high-profile new owner.

(Image from Google Earth)

(Image from Google Earth)

Minneapolis restaurateur Kam Talebi, founder of some of the city’s top gourmet establishments, has reportedly purchased a private island in beautiful Lake Minnetonka. While the selling price has not yet been disclosed, the local media is speculating that it was in the $2 million range.

While photographs of the island show an impressive, sprawling mansion, the reality of the island estate is somewhat more complicated – and poses a challenge that the enterprising new owner has eagerly taken on. The 18,674 sq ft mansion is only half-finished – the construction was abandoned in 2008 when its former owner ran into some serious trouble.

The grand home on the island was the dream of Jeffrey Wirth, a hotel and waterpark magnate who reportedly spent more than $6 million on purchasing the island and the unfinished construction. Last May, Mr. Wirth was sentenced to several years and prison and heavily fined for conspiring to commit tax fraud, the proceeds of which, according to the court, were poured into trips, gifts for family, and the island project.

The abandoned mansion came to be regarded as an eyesore by the wealthy cottagers in the area, who are no doubt happy that a new owner will be putting an end to the project. Listed by local real estate broker Nick Leyendecker at an “as-is” price of just over $2 million, the island needed a seriously determined buyer to take up the task of rebuilding the estate.

(The island's unfinished mansion)

(The island’s unfinished mansion)

The listing offered plenty of appeal for the right buyer, however. The island, which connects to an included mainland property via a causeway, could serve as either a luxurious retreat or a primary residence. For Midwesterners with a love of fishing and the outdoors, gorgeous Lake Minnetonka is a sought-after market for both life and play.

A vast natural paradise covering almost 60,000 sq km, the lake has long been a favorite getaway spot for Twin Cities elites. In the peak of the lake’s glory days in the early 20th century, it attracted wealthy visitors from as far away as the Deep South, and grand mansions and hotels still line its shores.

Whatever challenges lay ahead for the owner in redeveloping the property, the lifestyle it offers would be well worth the work. With his impressive business track record and obvious entrepreneurial spirit, Mr. Talebi seems like the right buyer to give the Minnetonka island mansion a new lease on life.

Read more about this story: Lake Minnetonka Patch


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