An 8,200-square-foot mansion the city of Sammamish bought in 2006 burned to the ground Monday, just as city officials wanted.
The pink Kellman mansion, west of Sammamish’s City Hall and library at 831 228th Ave. S.E., had been used for little other than storage since the city bought the structure and 9.4-acre estate it was on for $3.25 million.
The city always intended for the land to be the site of a
$34.5 million community and aquatics center. Construction is expected to begin this year. But no viable, cost-effective ideas for the mansion — which needed expensive upgrades to be up to code — were ever agreed upon.
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“The house also had a very chopped-up quality with lots of small rooms,” said city spokesman, Tim Larson. “It didn’t lend itself to a retreat center or teen center.”
So last fall, city officials came up with and approved another way to use it.
They invited Eastside Fire & Rescue to run drills in it that would ultimately include fully engulfing the structure in flames. Most, if not all the fire department’s personnel were able to run drills inside it sometime in the past two months.
In the decade firefighter Jon Wiseman has been with the department, he said, the Kellman mansion was the third structure he’s been able to run such drills in — and it was definitely the biggest one.
“The value to the firefighters’ training is great — we certainly don’t have the opportunity to drill in something that big often,” said Wiseman.
But some residents were still baffled that the mansion was never used for anything more as smoke billowed into the sky.
Sammamish resident Tiffany LaMonte, 41, said she would have loved to see it house homeless members of Tent City 4, currently set up at Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Sammamish. The encampment must move from its current site by the end of the week and doesn’t know where to go next.
“We have a multimillion dollar mansion sitting empty with storage,” said LaMonte. “I don’t understand how, an eighth of a mile away, we have people sleeping in tents when it’s 5 degrees outside and we couldn’t find a way to make it work for them.”
Larson said a structural engineer’s report from 2006 concluded that the roof leaked, parts were full of dry rot and that “significant costs” would be associated with making the building safe and up to code.
Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @AlexaVaughn.