Winnetka reacts to Ishbia megamansion with lot-size regulations

Special-use permit will be required for massive consolidations

Winnetka Regulates Lot Consolidation in Reaction to Ishiba Mansion
A photo illustration of Justin Ishbia and an aerial view of Winnetka (Getty, Google Maps, DemocraticLuntz at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0 - via Wikimedia Commons)

Billionaire Justin Ishbia’s unpopular plan to build a $44 million megamansion in Winnetka has instigated change in the ritzy Chicago suburb.

The Winnetka Village Council unanimously approved an ordinance last week that limits lot consolidations, a move stemming from residents’ concerns about Ishbia’s lakefront mansion, the Chicago Tribune reported

Ishbia, the founder of Shore Capital Partners, purchased an assemblage of Winnetka homes, starting in 2020, and began demolishing them to make way for his estate. The project has fueled a contentious battle between the billionaire, local residents and officials since Ishbia’s plans came to light earlier this year. 

The ordinance, approved Dec. 19, necessitates a special-use permit to create lots that are at least double the minimum lot size or average width required by zoning. It is intended to maintain the neighborhood’s character by preventing the construction of expansive properties on consolidated lots.

Properties like Ishiba’s could transform the neighborhood if Winnetka allowed more of them,  Village President Chris Rintz said in November. Rintz was absent from the Dec. 19 session.

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Ishbia plans to merge four lakefront lots, spanning 3.7 acres, and build a $44 million mansion near Centennial Park. The project’s approval led to these municipal maneuvers.

Winnetka officials are also contemplating steep-slope regulations, intended to protect bluffs from construction, in response to the Ishbia build. The village council will hold a public hearing addressing steep-slope proposals on Jan. 9. 

Not everyone is for these land-use regulations. 

“We have a lot of creative people on this Village Council, and all you can think to do is to regulate every other lakefront owner with steep-slope regulations because you’re unhappy about one homeowner and what they did,” said John Edwardson, a lakefront homeowner. “There’s got to be a different way to handle it.”

—Quinn Donoghue 

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