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Done Deal A half-built villa situated on a Lake Minnetonka island finally finds an owner. | By Alyssa Ford

5560 Maple Height Rd., Greenwood Original List Price: $5,999,900 Sale Price: $2,075,000

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uxury homebuilder David Erotas has been attempting to finish the “Isle of Windemere” for more than a decade. The project started in 2002, when property developer Jeff Wirth commissioned Erotas to build a three-story, 18,674-square-foot Mediterraneanstyle villa on a 1.25-acre island on Lake Minnetonka. At the time, Wirth was flying high, having just reinvented the old Minneapolis Athletic Club as the Minneapolis Grand Hotel, touted at the time as the city’s only fourstar hotel. Erotas says the project was sluggish from Day One. The design process was frustratingly drawn out, and then the city of Greenwood put up a stiff fight against the four-bedroom, six-bathroom mansion. “We never got momentum,” says Erotas. “We would start building, and then Jeff would tell us to stop, and then we’d start again and then stop.” Finally, in 2008, construction halted for the last time when Wirth and his wife, Holly Damiani, filed for divorce. Wirth repeatedly told Erotas that he wanted to finish the house once the dust from the divorce settled. It never happened. Turns out Wirth had bigger problems than a partially finished house in St. Albans Bay. Last September, he was sentenced to four and a half years at the federal prison camp in Duluth for using company dollars to fund his lavish lifestyle while simultaneously pleading extreme poverty to the Internal Revenue Service. IRS investigators showed that one of Wirth’s companies, Isle of Windemere LLC, invested $4.5 million in an elaborate mansion on a small Lake Minnetonka island. Revenue agents testified that Wirth funneled an additional $2.5 million into the home from other business interests and affectionately nicknamed the

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house “Windemere.” (Windemere is also the name of Ernest Hemingway’s boyhood summer cottage in Michigan.) All the while, Wirth was claiming to the IRS that he was making only $12,000 a year, well below the federal poverty guidelines for a family of two. By June 2010, no construction work had been done on the house for well over two years. The whole property was listed on the market for just under $6 million. By November 2011, the price dropped to $3.2 million. Erotas would turn the heat on in the wintertime in an attempt to preserve the site but privately wondered if the house would be an eternal boondoggle. But real-estate miracles do happen. Kam Talebi, the outgoing restaurateur who founded Crave with his brother, Keyvan, bought the property in January for $2.075 million. Even more amazing to Erotas, Talebi plans to complete the original house with only modest changes to the design. “[He’s] going to scale down the interiors — which were admittedly pretty over-the-top,” says Erotas. “But many of the unusual features he’s going to keep.” Talebi’s keeping the 80-foot-by-18-foot skylight as well as the steel cable–supported glass elevator Erotas says is unlike any other in Minnesota. The two main wings of the house will still be connected by a generous interior courtyard Erotas likes to call the piazza. The main house will still connect to the dome-topped pool house via an underground tunnel, a subterranean space so large it doubles as a 15-car garage. Erotas doesn’t imagine the new owner is going to give the house a name à la Jeff Wirth. Says Erotas: “I don’t think he’s that kind of guy.” Nick Leyendecker, Coldwell Banker Burnet agent, coordinated the sale for the bank owner and buyer.

Profile for Artful Living Magazine

Artful Living Magazine | Spring 2013  

Artful Living is a quarterly magazine centered around beautiful homes and the lifestyles within. We bring to you the highlights of arts and...

Artful Living Magazine | Spring 2013  

Artful Living is a quarterly magazine centered around beautiful homes and the lifestyles within. We bring to you the highlights of arts and...

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