For $22 million, Irwin Jacobs' Lake Minnetonka home is no fixer-upper

  • Article by: JIM BUCHTA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 20, 2014 - 9:43 PM

Businessman Irwin Jacobs adds his Tanager Hill estate to the list of Lake Minnetonka mansions for sale.

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$22 million: 1700 Shoreline Drive, Orono. Tanager Hill is a 32-acre estate with a 13,000-square-foot house being sold by Irwin Jacobs.

Photo: Regional Multiple Listing Service

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Tanager Hill, the second-most-expensive listing in the Twin Cities metro, hit the market this week for $22 million.

Situated on a tree-studded hilltop, the stately white brick house has lorded over Lake Minnetonka since it was built in the early 1940s by Charles Bell, son of the founder of General Mills.

The 32-acre property includes an imposing 13,000-square-foot main house, a 3,500-square-foot guesthouse, a pool house, two caretaker houses, a barn and a guard house.

“This is simply the most extraordinary and long-admired estate on Lake Minnetonka,” said Bonnie Velie, the co-listing agent and director of Distinctive Homes/Previews division for Coldwell Banker Burnet.

For 42 years, the house has been owned by Irwin Jacobs, who has made a fortune buying and selling companies, including Genmar, once considered the largest U.S. boatmaker.

Jacobs, 72, and his wife, Alexandra, said it’s time to downsize.

“My kids are gone, the grandkids are growing up and I’m getting up in my years, so this is something me and my wife want to do,” said Jacobs, who now owns Watkins Inc., Jacobs Trading and several other companies.

Velie said that while the house is “the most classic of traditional homes and you might expect a house of this era to be quite formal,” it’s also a highly livable house that with no shortage of casual areas.

And at $22 million, it’s still not quite the most expensive listing in the Twin Cities. The nearby 13-acre Pillsbury/Jundt estate, which includes a pristine 32,000-square-foot house, has been on the market for $24 million for several years.

Still, upscale houses are beginning to sell at a faster clip. Over the past 12 months in Orono alone, there were 22 sales priced at $1.3 million and higher, a 38-percent increase over last year, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. And sales of homes priced from $750,000 to $1.4 million have increased 57 percent.

And with housing construction on the rise, especially in close proximity to downtown Minneapolis, Velie said there’s a shortage of building sites. Because of that, Tanager Hill, which has 720 feet of shoreline on Smith’s Bay and 1,231 feet along Tanager Lake, just might be ripe for subdivision.

Adam Fonda, an agent with Lakes Sotheby’s Realty in Wayzata, agrees.

“My bet is on that,” he said. He said that given the property’s mix of terrain, including wetlands, untamed lakeshore and rolling hills, he estimated that a developer might be able to carve it into nine to 12 homesites.

Jacobs said that while he can’t predict what will happen to the property, he won’t stand in the way.

“When someone opens their wallet to buy something,” he said. “I’m not one to tell them how to spend their money.”

What’s next for Jacobs? He said he isn’t sure where they’ll move, but one thing is certain: He and his wife are not ready for a condo or townhouse. “We both agree we want to be on the lake and to live somewhere fairly substantial so our family can come to visit,” he said. “But it is time for us to move on.”

 

Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376

  • related content

  • $24 million: 1400 Brackett’s Point Rd., Orono. Southways, the former Pillsbury estate, includes 13 acres and a 32,000-square-foot house.

  • $11.9 million: 2825 Little Orchard Way, Orono. The property has an 11,000-square-foot house on five acres overlooking Maxwell Bay.

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