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The Story Behind Shepherd of Bull Valley

It’s cold outside so sit down by a fire and enjoy a story, a story that is full of twists and turns that at times made my head spin. My longest post ever.

This story begin in 2015 when this gorgeous 18,000 sf home on 34 acres full of Motorola history was sitting on the MLS for $2.4M. My realtor Joe Keegan brought it to my attention after it had a recent price drop of $800,000 down to $1,600,000. Hello right, can you say Motivated seller?? My business partner Theresa Maskrey and I went to go look at it and it was straight out of the late 70s/early 80s with the green apple shag carpet to boot (icing on the cake). The house was VERY unique, the type of house that captivated you, soon as you walked in with every room giving you amazing views at one of highest elevations in all of McHenry County.

Shepherd made our full price offer with a seller carry back financing. My thinking was who else would buy it with a monthly tax bill of $8,000. Yes that’s right it’s annual tax bill was $98,000… Yikes!! Feeling confident with the initial offer I thought for sure we would get it… then came another twist. We didn’t get it, someone else bought it…. someone else made an all cash offer and got a smoking deal.


Disappointed.. My team and I moved on and found Shepherd of Harvard and then the realtor calls me again in 2018 saying Its BACK!!! It’s not only back but it’s up for sale for HALF the price of my original 2015 offer! Made a couple calls and raised the capital from friends and family to make an all cash quick close offer. Thank you to the investors who made this home possible, you know who you are… Thank You!! We closed on it just in knick of time beating out another all cash offer from one of the band members from Guns and Roses for his baby mama (funny side story). If that wasn’t enough at the closing table we get a call from our attorney Steve Cuda saying hey we’ve got an offer on the back 20 acres for $25K per acre which would give us a “close neighbor” but would have our all in purchase price of an 18,000 sf house at only $250,000. We ended up passing on the offer, didn’t feel right at all. At Shepherd we value the nature feel at our homes and many of them are nestled on bigger lots than our big box competition.

3D Architectural Design

Now Shepherd owns the home, and the real work begins. First step is getting conditional use permit (CUP Craig Wastell calls it) and anyone from McHenry County knows the village of Bull Valley is no joke. I remember as a kid Joshua Moore and my brother Jason Schwab got a couple hundred dollar tickets each for picking flowers in Bull Valley (just to give you some context). Our partner Steve Maskrey is our licensing and permitting ninja and he went to work facing adversity like you couldn’t even imagine. Picture the movie 300. At one point it felt like the neighbors all came together with their pitch forks to oust the idea completely. Steve persisted and after months and months and months of back n forth we came up with a win/win/win CUP for local seniors, the community and Shepherd. Thank you Bull Valley community, we love Bull Valley! Next step after licensing and permitting (CUP) we started construction in September of 2019. Writing this in 2021 makes me giggle as you know what happens next. It was a battle of persistence and overcoming obstacle after obstacle the ENTIRE time. Our construction team completed the construction in December of 2020 amidst a grueling pandemic, COVID, fear in the market, and big box senior living struggling heavily with COVID (and very publicly). Furnishing a very unique 18,000 sf house is a feat by itself and Theresa Maskrey did a great job! Keep in mind this house has 500 truck loads of California Sand drift stones incorporated into the interior and exterior building design (see pics). Furniture got ordered and built and staged by end of January and as you can see by pics below it turned out great.

Key note on build is we have installed a commercial grade elevator that opens on both sides and touches 4 levels from lower level, ground level through garage, first and second level. We also had to install a commercial grade fire protection system which has 3 tanks of 3,000 gallons of water each! We put in a full commercial kitchen with 48” range on wheels all while making it feel like a home. 2 fireplaces one in a 30×30 great room and another in lower level next to the round table. Also this home have a full indoor pool in a 3,300 sf cedar lined room that is also protected by fire sprinklers (thank you Tony Melnick for your hard work). Last but not least and I’m sure I’m missing a bunch, we are installing a 150,000KW Generac Commercial Generator to protect our local seniors no matter what happens with the local power grid and offer refuge for our other homes in case of an emergency to occupy the lower level.

This house has been the biggest test of my professional career and thank goodness my mother KJ Schwab raised me right to never quit. Persistence is my super power and only because of her. My mom as a single mother raised my brother, sister and I despite all odds the right way. She believed in us and her time being self employed with Amway has had a profound impact on me and my life. She was very successful in Amway and we traveled around the country. I watched her speak on stage and helping others, an absolute inspiration for me and forever changed the course of my life.

Now as Shepherd finished the construction and waiting for final occupancy next Tuesday from the health department which I pray to God finally happens. In a normal world we would have the biggest grand opening party you have ever seen in your life. This house was built to entertain hundreds of people at a time without feeling cramped at all. If you have photos from back in the day, please share them with me. Due to COVID and all the restrictions we just can’t have the 70’s theme plaid bell bottoms and Afro party I wanted to throw for the community to know what we built to change the senior living industry. In lieu of the planned 70s party the Shepherd sales team (Kay, Steve and Theresa) and I are scheduling private tours on an appointment only basis. To schedule your private tour call Megan today at 847-545-0312 or call our Marketing Director at 847-750-5411.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in making Shepherd of Bull Valley a reality! A big thank you to my wife Kelli Schwab who has been by my side through the thick and the thin, couldn’t of done this without your love and support.