Ishbia determined to complete lakefront assemblage in face of new obstacles

Winnetka vote to cancel land swap with billionaire postponed amid controversy

261 Sheridan Road in Winnetka with Justin Ishbia and Colleen Root with Winnetka Park District (Google Maps, WinPark, LinkedIn)
261 Sheridan Road in Winnetka with Justin Ishbia and Colleen Root with Winnetka Park District (Google Maps, WinPark, LinkedIn)

A billionaire’s dream home is a millionaire’s nightmare in the ritzy Chicago suburb of Winnetka on Lake Michigan’s shore.

Justin Ishbia, the 45-year-old founder of Chicago private equity firm Shore Capital Partners who Forbes estimates is worth $2.3 billion, narrowly avoided a setback last month with Winnetka officials that would have further delayed his attempt to assemble a lakefront estate that he’s already spent $40 million to piece together in order to build a new home, the Chicago Tribune reported.

He’d been negotiating quietly with the village’s park district to swap one of the four mansions he’s bought since 2020 — specifically the vacant home at 261 Sheridan Road he bought for $6.2 million that separates the beaches at Winnetka’s Elder Lane and Centennial parks — for land that is currently public so he would adjoin it to his other three properties.

Yet this spring, he faced blowback from local residents over his plans to wall off and privatize a section of beach featuring stunning lakefront views that he’d receive from the park district as part of the deal, which would let the local government achieve its longtime goal of connecting the two public beaches.

As opposition grew, a park district vote to cancel the swap that was initially agreed to in October 2020 was scheduled last month, although the board punted on making a decision on that action. A lawsuit filed by Rob Schriesheim, the former CFO of Sears Holdings Corp., also seeks to derail the project by claiming the deal would break public trust.

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The lawsuit was part of the reason the park board considered calling the deal off. Ishbia this summer already agreed to a redesign of his original vision that removed a steel slatted wall from the plans.

He’s determined to complete a home project, even if it means killing the land swap and keeping 261 Sheridan as a guest home for family, vowing that “it’s not going to go to waste,” according to the outlet.

The board voted to set a Jan. 20 deadline to complete the land swap. Ishbia, however, said he’s going to keep the deed to the home until all approvals for his planned work on the lakefront are granted by the local government, state and Army Corps of Engineers.

— Victoria Pruitt