Builder to be ‘ambassador’ for iconic house

The drawing shows one of two new 4,000 square feet homes to be built on the south side of the Castle House lot on West Mercer Way. The 5,600 square feet mansion, in gray, upper left, built in 1910 will remain.  - JayMarc Homes/Contributed Art
The drawing shows one of two new 4,000 square feet homes to be built on the south side of the Castle House lot on West Mercer Way. The 5,600 square feet mansion, in gray, upper left, built in 1910 will remain.
— image credit: JayMarc Homes/Contributed Art

As the economy has rebounded, new homes are once again popping up amid long, established neighborhoods. Signs of demolition and new construction are appearing across the Island; along Island Crest Way and notably, in East Seattle.

The new construction, referred to as ‘in-fill development,’ replaces older homes with inevitably larger structures for new owners.

It can be upsetting. Such change can seem to threaten the character of a block or a neighborhood or might mean the loss of a historic home.

Most notable of these is the sale and potential construction involving the large historic home along West Mercer Way, just north of the old Boys and Girls Club location, the now-shuttered East Seattle School. Often called the 'Castle House,' the 5,600 square feet house was sold recently to JayMarc Homes, a developer and builder, by the Seaton family for $2.1 million. Some neighbors are concerned about what will happen to the property, worrying that it might be torn down to make way for several homes.

Not so, said Marc Rousso of JayMarc, who said that the firm plans to spend $300,000 on the house to replace the kitchen, add a garage and make other upgrades to the home. Those designs, he said, will “match the original house.”

JayMarc is owned by two Islanders, Jay Mezistrano and Rousso, who are busy building 20 new homes on the Island with another 20 underway in Bellevue. At their offices in the Island Corporate Center, Rousso explains that his firm is committed to the Island and doing what is right not only for clients, but for the community.

“We want to be ambassadors for that house,” said Rousso of the iconic home on West Mercer Way. “We want to leave it essentially as it is now.”

The property, however, will be divided, with two additional homes back-to-back, sited on the southern side of the property. One home will be facing Island Crest Way on the corner at S.E. 28th Street. Another home will sit behind or east of that home, facing S.E. 28th Street. Each will be a two-story home about 4,000 square feet in size. The circular driveway in front of the historic house will be made smaller to fit directly in front of the home.

It will look different, the builder said.

The 25,500 square feet lot has dozens of tall trees. Rousso acknowledges that some trees will have to be cut down to make way for construction. “We have been talking a lot with Kathy Parker, the arborist at the city, to insure everything we do is correct,” he said.

The JayMarc partnership has been around for many years. Rousso and his business partner, friends since college, have managed dozens of homes and properties, developing land, remodelling or building new. They started in the real estate business after college and have weathered the recent economic downturn.

“It was a difficult time for us,” Rousso said.

The firm, which has 15 to 20 employees in Mercer Island, are also the builders of the four homes planned for the lot on First Hill at 2976 S.E. 32nd St., formerly owned by the city's water utility. The property was put up for sale by the city on behalf of the utility, after neighbors protested a  proposal that the city build affordable housing there. Neighbors had hoped that the undeveloped lot could be made into a park.

The large lot has been subdivided into a plat that will hold four homes.


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