Wasendorf Properties Hit Market This Week

By Jim Offner, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

CEDAR FALLS - Many of Russell Wasendorf Sr.'s properties are about to hit the market. Wasendorf is in custody and awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty last month to embezzling $200 million as CEO of now-defunct Peregrine Financial Group Inc.

PFG filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in July, one day after Wasendorf attempted suicide outside company headquarters.
As part of the liquidation process meant to repay swindled investors for part of their losses, several properties go on sale Monday, including:
-MyVerona restaurant building, 419 Main St. in Cedar Falls, for $995,000.
-A former warehouse at 5729 Westminster Drive in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park, for $295,000.
-A 3,564-square-foot, four-bedrooom house at 4008 Pheasant Drive in Cedar Falls, used for PFG guests, for $359,000.
-Wasendorf's estate at 8901 Cedar-Wapsi Road, including 20 acres of land, a 3,753,-square-foot, three-bedroom house with wine cellar, carriage house, woodworking shop and U-shaped indoor pool with a retractable glass-paneled roof. The asking price is $750,000.

Not included among the properties is the three-year-old 50,000-square-foot PFG office building on 20 wooded acres. That is a more complicated situation, according to the father-son team of Fred and Matt Miehe of Sulentic Fischels Commercial Group, the real estate brokers who approached the court-appointed receiver, Chicago-based attorney Michael Eidelman, about selling the properties.

"That's probably going to take more of a national effort," Miehe said. "Michael is talking with some national brokerage communities that we'll partner with."

Also on the block is space at 110-112 Third St., which already has offers pending, Fred Miehe said. That will be finalized in the next two weeks.

Fred Miehe expects serious interest in the MyVerona property. "People have been talking about it. They've been waiting for it."

Restaurant fixtures and personal possessions of Wasendorf's --- including autographed football jerseys from former University of Northern Iowa, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana and a signed Super Bowl XX jersey from the Chicago Bears' William "Refrigerator" Perry --- will be auctioned Nov. 15 at the former PFG headquarters building at 1 Peregrine Way north of Cedar Falls. The auction will be accessible online.

Miehe recently led a tour of the abandoned MyVerona, including its still-stocked, climate-controlled wine cellar. As he led a group of visitors through the cavernous, empty MyVerona dining room, there was work under way.

Luis Guerrero, field supervisor with Woodland Hills, Calif.-based Great American Group LLC, which is conducting the auction, was busy tagging and cataloging tables, chairs, utensils and just about everything that wasn't nailed down.

Guerrero and an associate have been working there since Tuesday.
"We're basically making the (auction) lots for the people to come in and buy," he said. "We're inventorying all the glassware and stools, wine, fixtures. We'll set up for square tables with four chairs. We'll go around and tag everything and get it ready for auction."

When they're done at the restaurant, they'll go to Wasendorf's former residence and start the process over.

Miehe drove over to Wasendorf's gated estate, which he said PFG employees called "the compound."

Driving up to the house, Miehe inserted a key into a security box, and a large, motorized iron gate jerked into action, lumbered slowly back and opened the way to the vast property that featured hills, woods and open fields.

Clustered around the main house are a timber-sided carriage house, with residential space above a two-vehicle garage. To the left of the carriage house is a complementary woodworking building.

Just beyond the house is an enclosed gazebo. To its left, about 30 yards away, is the 10,499-square-foot swimming pool building. It is enclosed by glass panels and resembles an oversized greenhouse. The building features separate multi-stall men's and women's showers with saunas and steam rooms and a pool-side jacuzzi.

"The swimming pool is a wild card," Fred Miehe said. "Some people will see it and say, 'I'm not interested in a pool. Somebody else might see how it makes a lot of sense, for (corporate gatherings). For three-quarters of a million dollars, somebody's going to look at a million-dollar pool."

Just outside the house is a patio that features a brick-constructed wood-burning pizza oven and smoker, as well as bar amenities for a beer tap.

The house features two kitchens --- a counter in one has a flat screen TV that descends under the surface with the push of a button. Drapes are operated by remote control.

The basement has living space, a bar and a climate-controlled wine cellar that was stocked with an estimated 1,000 bottles.

The main floor has an open kitchen, and dining room with marble tiles. Even the house's two-car garage has a tile floor.

Upstairs, bedrooms are open and recessed to allow views on main-floor kitchen and living areas.

One bedroom has a sliding entry door that has leaded stained glass.
Matt Miehe was asked how the sellers arrived at the asking price.

"Everything has been appraised," he said. "We're using the appraisals as a benchmark. Some are at the appraised number, some are higher, some are lower."
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