In some cases, for example, buyers will assign a portion of what they paid to furniture and other removable items, known as chattel, in an attempt to reduce the taxable value of the property.
A deed filed in Cuyahoga County shows a $6 million price assigned to Wolstein’s former mansion and part of the grounds. But the settlement statement, a more detailed document attached to a conveyance form, also mentions more than $4.4 million in funds from the Geauga County property sale.
Geauga County records, meanwhile, don’t list a price. That transfer appears to be an entity sale, in which the buyer acquired a new limited liability company that held the land instead of purchasing the property outright.
The sale still does not appear in regional listing-service records.
“I’m thrilled it sold,” said David Ayers, a luxury specialist with the Young Team at Keller Williams Greater Metropolitan in Moreland Hills. “I hope it’s an end user who’s going to enjoy the property. I love Hunting Valley, and what’s great for one luxury transaction or high-end transaction in Northeast Ohio is good for all of them. And we want to see more of these types of transactions.”
Cantrall, who has a $10 million waterfront listing in Bay Village, echoed that sentiment. The Ravencrest sale caps a recent run of notable purchases in the region, including a lakefront mansion in Lakewood that commanded $7 million in September and a Hunting Valley estate that sold for close to $5.4 million in October to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Listings are scarce, driving fierce competition for high-quality homes. Meanwhile, buyers are awash in cash — at a level that Cantrall, who has been in the business for four decades, has never seen.
“This is the gilded age,” he said. “And anybody that says anything different is out of their minds.”
Ravencrest, completed in 2009, took about five years to build.
The mansion includes six bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms, five half-bathrooms and endless spaces for entertaining. There’s a movie theater. A wine-tasting room. A nightclub. And rooms devoted to games, gift-wrapping, crafts and the Wolstein family’s canine companions.
Inside, the fitness facilities span a basketball court, a full gym, a lap pool and a rock-climbing wall. Outside, the grounds feature two carriage houses, an infinity pool, a cabana, tennis courts and walking trails.
Overlooking the Chagrin River valley off County Line Road, the estate is surrounded by trees and separated from its neighbors by a winding, private driveway.
“It was a house that was built by someone that was in real estate, loved real estate and truly set out to build the ultimate house in Northeast Ohio. … And I think he accomplished it,” Kaufman said. “Scott was a visionary, and the house really, truly was the most extraordinary house on the most extraordinary piece of property.”
Wolstein was the co-founder and former CEO of Developers Diversified Realty Corp., the Beachwood-based retail real estate investment trust now known as SITE Centers Corp. A strong believer in Cleveland, he also was the principal developer of the Flats East Bank riverfront project downtown.
He acquired the Hunting Valley property in 2004, records show. The following year, he entered a conservation easement agreement with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. That agreement, a permanent preservation tool, prohibits most of the land from being developed.
Originally, though, Wolstein and the conservancy reserved four sites in Geauga County, along County Line Road, for additional single-family homes. Those parcels were for his children, or lineal descendants. When Wolstein died, at age 69, those sites had not been touched.
In early March, Harrison Wolstein and the conservancy amended that agreement as part of the groundwork for the sale. Now there are only two future home sites — parcels that are no longer limited to use by Wolstein’s heirs. The parties also eliminated the family’s right to build a barn on another portion of the property.
Bruce Mavec, Hunting Valley’s mayor, said the village has not received any information about potential development on the land. And he hasn’t heard anything about the buyer’s plans. He’s certainly interested, though, both as a government official and a next-door neighbor.
“I was aware there was a sale pending,” Mavec said. “I haven’t been made privy to the amounts or specific details at all.”