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Jerry Kleiner’s Zany West Town House Is Yours for $2,795,000

After a winter absence, the restaurateur’s approximately 9,000-square-foot industrial garage conversion returns to market.

The dining hall, with 35 foot ceiling, industrial skylight, and a long table.   Photo: Ian Spula

Maybe you’ve been to Jerry Kleiner’s Carnivale, Il Poggiolo, or his shuttered Opera, but unless you tagged along to one of the restaurateur’s vaunted holiday parties you probably haven’t been inside Kleiner’s Noble Square mansion. The converted 1923 industrial garage is a dreamscape of larger-than-life pottery, expressive upholstery, cartoonish lighting, and pillows that litter the floors like enormous puff pastries.

The place really does need the abundance of colorful furnishings—how else would one man with grown children bring life to 9,000 square feet of interior space?

The structure was originally an industrial garage, and Kleiner’s 1998 single-family conversion kept vestiges of that use in the garage door front entryway (now floor-to-ceiling glass), the curb cut, and the great room’s 35 foot ceiling, trusses, and industrial skylight.

A lot of the custom woodwork, doors (with door knobs the size of melons), and trim were added in a 2008 updating. Even when ceiling heights aren’t 35’, they’re still a comfortable 15’. This, coupled with finishes best described as off-kilter classic, bestows the main floor living areas with an art gallery aura. It’s not always clear what to touch and what not to (easiest, for me, not to touch anything).

The kitchen, on the other hand, is practically an industrial test kitchen built to withstand rough handling and mishaps. The thing is huge, with a long stainless steel prep station, an island, pantry, and all the tools for the job. Checkered floors cover 750 square feet and the space also has floor-to-ceiling windows to the landscaped courtyard containing a putting green, limestone grotto, wading pool, and speaker system. Rounding out the main level is the master suite: a 500-square-foot bedroom with an attached tile bathroom sporting a large Jacuzzi, steam shower, double vanity, and a chandelier.

The original industrial operations would’ve needed just one level, and so it makes sense that the second floor collects the add-ons. Two bedrooms, some storage space, and a half-bath are at the top of a monumental staircase. It’s a bit anticlimactic, but it still has plenty of quirks: the bedrooms and storage area are railroaded with short, pyramidal sets of stairs between each room. The roof slants into each space. It’s not bad, just funny.

Kleiner is working on some Los Angeles projects, so he’s in town a lot less. He’s looking at moving downtown to a doorman building, according to Coldwell Banker listing agent Joseph Gasbarra. Inevitably, there remains a strong attachment to such a personal space. “Last year, despite solid interest and five good offers, I don’t think he was completely ready to sell,” says Gasbarra. There’s been one showing and a couple of showing requests in the few days since re-listing.

“With Google coming to the West Loop, people working over there may look to live around here,” says Gasbarra. This probably won’t influence Kleiner’s sale, since Google isn’t making the move until 2016. There could, however, be a noticeable impact on single-family pricing as few exist in the West Loop.

Price Points: Kleiner’s handcrafted palace was put up for sale in February 2011 for $2.9 million (Kleiner paid $400k for the raw structure in ‘98). Gasbarra took over the listing in September 2012 with a new ask of $2.675 million. It was hard to refuse four months of super high rent from an oversees tenant, and so the listing disappeared from January through April of this year. The renewed push, at $2.795 million, is a serious one.

Four of 2013’s five offers were cash—people are serious about scoring this place.

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