List Price: $3.587 million
Sale Price: $3.701 million
The Property: The 30-room Wilmette mansion where the now-imprisoned political wheeler-dealer Tony Rezko threw fundraisers for Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich is undergoing renovations by its new owners, Dan Johnson, the managing director of Citadel Investment Group, and his wife, Katherine “Katsy” Johnson, an artist.
The couple bought the house from Bank of America last March through a trust that does not identify them in public records. I only learned their names last week. My source asked not to be identified because of personal relationships with the new owners.
Built in 1930, the house stands well back from the street on a one-acre lot in the northern Wilmette neighborhood known as the CAGE—an acronym of the street names Chestnut, Ashland, Greenwood, and Elmwood. The streets are paved in brick, and this home has as its neighbors some of Wilmette’s most impressive off-the-lake mansions.
When the property was on the market last winter, the New York Times reported that the nine-bedroom mansion needed at least $42,000 in repairs. In June, Katsy Johnson posted a note on Facebook saying, “You know the roof problem of your new house is bad when you walk in a bathroom and a bird is taking a shower in there.”
Now, a new roof is being installed, and a contractor’s debris slide extends from one upper-floor window of the 8,600-square-foot Italianate house. Out front is a sign saying that the Evanston architecture firm Morgante-Wilson is handling the project. My source said that the home’s plumbing system is in disrepair, and that the driveway had to be torn up as a result.
Before his June 2008 conviction on federal charges of fraud, bribery, and money-laundering, Rezko had been a fast-food and construction entrepreneur who was a longtime fundraiser for many Democratic and Republican candidates. Along with hosting a fundraiser for Obama’s campaign for U.S. Senate, Rezko and his wife, Rita, sold to the Obamas a strip of land that adjoined their Kenwood home, a transaction that Barack Obama later said he regretted.
In early August, the Johnsons sold their prior home—about three-quarters of a mile away on another brick street in Wilmette—for $1.6 million, according to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds. The Johnsons did not respond to requests for comment.
Price Points: The Rezkos bought the house in 1999 for $1.9 million. According to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, they took out a $5.15 million mortgage on the property from LaSalle Bank in September 2003. Three years later, LaSalle Bank began foreclosure proceedings; Bank of America inherited the Rezkos’ 2003 mortgage when it acquired LaSalle Bank in 2007. In August 2009, Intercounty Judicial Sales Corp. held an auction for the house but got no bids. Bank of America then listed the house for sale conventionally in February, with an asking price of $3,587,900. The sale to the Johnsons closed March 22nd. The fact that the house was sold for more than the bank was asking suggests that there were multiple bids, but Lynn Dahl, one of the listing agents, did not respond to my request for confirmation.