Revisiting Restaurateur Jerry Kleiner's Converted West Town Digs
The Chicago "king of concept" transformed a 1923 brick industrial garage into a luxurious urban villa.
Every housing geek's heart skips a tiny beat when we hear the words: “The house was converted from a [fill in the blank].” When the renovator is tagged as the king of concept, Chicago foodie re-vitalist, designer, club maven and restaurateur Jerry Kleiner, let's just say he had us at “hello.” A natural showman, known to crack a few eggs and owner of the popular Carnivale eateries, Kleiner has an unmistakable template: Launching upscale concept spaces in transitional areas. (He turned the South Loop and Randolph Street into the Next Big Thing in chic dining destinations, and opened a club in the meat packing district. No small feat.) So it didn't surprise us that he used this formula to create another world – a Kleiner world – from a 1923 brick industrial garage in West Town. Yes, a garage.
Sitting on three city lots and clocking in at 9,400 square feet, the four-bedroom, three-bath Ohio Street rehab last sold for $400,000 in 1998. Kleiner can't help but go big with his “villa in the city.” The brick home has more than 100 feet of floor-to-ceiling windows, 15- to 35-foot ceilings, a putting green, salvaged architectural elements, Urban Archeology baths, a limestone grotto and a to-die-for 1,000-square-foot chef's kitchen fitted with Traulsen refrigeration. Supposedly, Food Network and ABC News celebrity chef Jamie Oliver – a rival of fellow Brit and Kitchen Nightmares' star Gordon Ramsay – gave the Kleiner kitchen a workout. Although the man with a “concept” has been tied up in law suits and a slew of restaurant closing, this house, like his many outlandish visions, just works. First listed in 2011, presented now by Coldwell Banker's Joseph Gasbarra, with an ask price of $2.6 million.