Michael Horne
House Confidential

Greek Freak’s $1.8 Million River Hills Home

Antetokounmpo is the third Bucks player to own the home and it's clearly under-assessed.

By - Nov 15th, 2018 10:02 am
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Greek Freak's $1.8 Million River Hills Home. Photo from the Village of River Hills.

Greek Freak’s $1.8 Million River Hills Home. Photo from the Village of River Hills.

Milwaukee Bucks Forward #34 Giannis Antetokounmpo (Γιαννις Αντετοκουνμπο) says he doesn’t like “flashy cities,” citing Los Angeles and Miami as examples. Implicit in his criticism is an awareness by this young professional basketball player in the prime of health and with millions of dollars of disposable income that the fleshpots of flashy cities might present a dangerous allure that is best to avoid. Stick to the practice court and you are more likely to avoid the criminal court.

Last month the unassuming and hard-working fan favorite bought a sedate although newish mansion in the decidedly unflashy Village of River Hills. Since arriving in Milwaukee for the 2013 season, Giannis has lived on Lake Drive, then in a lakeside condo in St. Francis, and most recently in an apartment on the Milwaukee River downtown, surrounded by family. Now he has traded his water views for land — lots of land, some 230,432 square feet in all. That’s just a bit shy of the size of the Acropolis in Antetokounmpo’s hometown of Athens, where he was born on December 6th, 1994.

The child of Nigerian parents (his father died in Milwaukee in 2017), Giannis grew up in the neighborhood of Sepolia. The name is derived from the Greek “exo poleos,” (εχο πολεοσ), which means “out of the city.” This certainly describes River Hills, with its five-acre minimum lot size, single-family only zoning, and a prohibition on retail commercial activity.

Bucks Score Three in a Row Here

Although it lacks a view of its namesake stream, or of the street itself, the residence is on Upper River Road, not far from the Milwaukee River and the county line dividing Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties. We’ve been down this road before, in 2015, when this same residence was bought by then-Buck Michael Carter-Williams for $1,650,000. (House Confidential: “Michael Carter Williams’ River Hills Mansion” September 8th, 2015.) Carter-Williams took a $50,000 haircut when he sold the 14 room home in November 2016 to then-Milwaukee Bucks player Mirza Teletovic. Teletovic sold it last month for $1.8 million to Giannis, making this home’s ownership three in a row for the Bucks.

The Real Estate Description

There exists a Zillow listing for the property, including photographs of the exterior and interior, along with this breathless description by the Real Estate Poet:

A winding circular drive welcomes you to over 11,000 square feet of luxury living. 6+ bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms. Generous room sizes & closet space, open concept kitchen, family room with patio doors to backyard. Vaulted ceiling sunroom with 2 way fireplace. Master suite features 2 large walk in closets, large bath with walk in shower and separate tub. Upstairs, 5 large bedrooms and 4 full bathrooms and bonus room/loft. LL Walk out with wet bar, game room, theater room, wine cellar, workout room. Inground pool and guest house. Heated garage w/drainage. Fabulous!

A heated garage with drainage! Fabulous! Giannis can wash his car all winter long.

But what about these other amenities — the walk-out basement with its wet bar, its game room, its theater, its wine cellar, its workout room? What about the “guest house” with its in-ground pool? What about the claimed 11,000 square feet of finished living area according to the real estate listing? The assessment record for the property includes none of the above, and lists the home at only 5,150 square feet of finished living area, or less than half of what the real estate advertisement claimed.

Assessor Overlooked “Guest House,” Other Improvements

The Assessor’s record for the home, as mentioned, lists it at only 5,150 square feet of finished living area. Yet for the 3,716-square foot  basement space, it lists zero square feet of finished living area. This is the same “walk out Lower Level” mentioned by the real estate agent, with the bar, game room, theater, wine cellar and workout room. These certainly have the characteristics of being “finished.” (All the wine cellar lacks is wine.) Yet for assessment purposes, they do not exist. The assessor claims four bedrooms, while the real estate listing offers “6+.”

Furthermore the Residential Property Record Card for the Village has a category for outbuildings, which are numerous and tightly regulated in the village. (Village ordinances forbid rental units. A community filled with landlords doesn’t need a bunch of tenants running around.) Yet there is no mention of an outbuilding here. Not only did the assessor overlook nearly 4,000 square feet of basement improvements, he missed assessing an entire structure in the form of the guest house.

And the village is likely missing a good deal of tax revenue.

The Assessor Explains

As is the case with many smaller communities (and some larger ones as well), assessment duties for the Village of River Hills are contracted out to a private company. Since 2016 the contract has been held by Tyler Technologies, a Texas firm that provides services to a wide array of governmental entities like courts, schools and assessor’s offices nationwide.

I contacted Tyler’s Marty Kuehn, who handles the assessments for River Hills and pointed out the apparent discrepancy between the official records and the real property.

“We took possession of the files from the previous assessor,” he said by telephone. “The last time the property was inspected was in 2013. … It looks like there are some inaccuracies.” For example, the improvements to the basement, and the “guest house,” which Kuehn estimates at about 1,800 square feet. “Our record doesn’t reflect that,” he said. Kuehn said he will start a new file on the home to include the basement improvements, other possible changes to the structure — and the guest house. Giannis better stay home and prepare his guest house, since he will soon be getting a visit from the assessor.

A Great Player, Yet a Modest Man

In November 2013 rookie Giannis, new to Milwaukee, was jogging along Brady Street, heading toward Downtown. (He lived on Lake Drive at the time.) A Milwaukee couple spotted him, and offered a ride to the BMO Harris Bradley Center on the chilly day. The player explained that he had just been to the Western Union, wiring all of his money to Greece, and that his credit card did not work, thus a cab was out of the question so he decided to run to the arena in his thin windbreaker. He accepted the ride, and squeezed his 6′-11″, 245-lb. frame into the rear seat of the Honda Civic. … In April of this year, after a game-winning score in the playoffs, Giannis decided to head over to Bel Air Cantina on N. Water St. for a bite to eat after the victory. The place was packed, which is not unusual, and after waiting a couple of minutes, his stomach growling, the player left and went down the street to DiModa instead.

A social media firestorm ensued among those outraged that the staff did not yank some customer off a chair so that the superstar could be served, as would have been the case in a flashy city like Los Angeles or Miami, but the contretemps was no big deal to Giannis. “It’s all good. I love you guys,” he tweeted. The feeling is mutual.

A Touch of Athens in River Hills?

St. Peter's Cemetery. Photo by Michael Horne.

St. Peter’s Cemetery. Photo by Michael Horne.

If fallen columns and marble ruins of the Acropolis were a memorable part of the Athenian landscape during the childhood years of Giannis, he will find a surprise just up the road from his new house in St. Peter’s Cemetery, the only one in the community. The most recent burial here was over a century ago, and the congregation is long gone. Sometime since the 2015 story about Michael Carter-Williams vandals toppled dozens of the monuments, leading to a disconcerting pile of stone, reminiscent on a smaller scale of the Greek ruins.

About Giannis Antetokounmpo

Do we really need to tell you about the career of one of the top NBA players? Probably not, but did you know Giannis has the largest hands of any NBA player, with a length of nearly 10 inches and span of 12 inches. And very long arms, too, with a wing-span of seven foot, three inches, but that’s actually second on his team to John Henson (seven foot, five inches).

Rundown

  • Owner: Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Location: Village of River Hills
  • Neighborhood: The Village of River Hills has no recognizable neighborhoods; the 5-acre minimum lots are so large you barely have neighbors as it is. It’s more about the address, and Upper River Road is a nice one.
  • Subdivision: None, created from an adjacent property via Certified Survey Map #2748
  • Year Built: 2006
  • Architect: Could not be determined, and nobody’s jumping up to take credit for it either
  • Style: Said to be a “Colonial” in the official records. Has certain Norman elements, but certainly conforms to the design norms of McMansions, both inside and out
  • Description: The home is located far from the street, and is obscured by plantings, some quite old, including a roadside oak. Symmetrical red brick with white quoins, the home is decidedly traditional on the exterior
  • Size: Depends on who is counting. The assessor says 5,150 s.f. of finished living area. The Zillow listing claims as much as 11,000 s.f., which probably includes the walkout basement and garage — and “guest house,” which does not appear in the assessor’s calculations. There is also a 356 square foot Rec Room and a 456 square foot attached garage.
  • Fireplaces: Three, one of them “two-way”
  • Bedrooms: According to the assessor: 4. According to real estate listing, “6+,” which probably includes the “guest house”
  • Bathrooms: 7 Full, one Half Baths.
  • Rec Room: Yes, and so much more, including wet bar, game room, theater room, wine cellar and workout room.
  • Assessment: Land: The 230,432-s.f. lot is assessed at $460,000 [$1.99/s.f.]. The improvement is assessed at $1,165,000  for a total assessed valuation of $1,625,000. Previous assessment: Could not be readily determined. Current owner bought property in October, 2018 for $1,800,000
  • Taxes: $40,323.41. Paid in Full by previous owner
  • Garbage Collection Route and Schedule: Johns Disposal Services handles this duty for the Village of River Hills. Home is on the Yellow Schedule, every other Tuesday. Next collection is November 13th, so Giannis better get moved in soon
  • Polling Location: Ward 3 votes at the Village Hall, 7650 N. Pheasant Ln.
  • Aldermanic District: Village website was down
  • County Supervisor District: 1 Theodore Lipscomb, Sr.
  • Walk Score: 10 out of 100 “Car Dependent” Most Daily Errands require a car. City of Milwaukee Average: 62 out of 100.
  • Transit Score: Not surprisingly, not found. City of Milwaukee Average: 49 out of 100. Bike Score: 32 out of 100, “Somewhat Bikeable.” Actually quite bikeable for a place with nowhere to go
  • How Milwaukee is it? The residence is approximately 12 miles north-northeast of Milwaukee City Hall by vehicle

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