Tuesday, July 25, 2006

New homes reflect area's history, style Fitting in on Mare Island

July 19, 2006

Fitting in on Mare Island
New homes reflect area's history, style

By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN, Times-Herald staff writer

THESE JOHN LAING HOMES are now available on Mare Island, with three floor plans to choose among. Photo: J.L. Sousa/Times-Herald

An alternative to the expensive old and new mansions cropping up around Mare Island will soon be available with the opening of The Nautilus Collection by John Laing Homes.

Created to emulate the design of the island's historic mansions, The Nautilus contains 27 four-plexes for a total of 108 residential units, according to Laing spokesman Patrick Saumure.

"As the master developer of Mare Island, Lennar Mare Island sold some sites to John Laing Homes for development," said Lennar spokesman Jason Keadjian.

"Outside, the homes are made to blend with the historic architecture of the island," Saumure said. "We worked extensively with the city to stay consistent with its heritage."

This is true even in the landscaping, Saumure said, with all trees and plants being of species already on the island.

With Nautilus model homes completed and decked out for visitors, potential buyers are invited to tour the development. A VIP tour was conducted last week and an open house was held Saturday, featuring a guest chef demonstrating how to whip up gourmet delights in the units' high-end stove and oven.

The new townhome/condos come in three floor plans, Saumure said - a 1,700-square-foot, single- level unit with three bedrooms and two baths; a 1,900-plus-square-foot walk-upo flat with three bedrooms and two baths; and a 2,200-square-foot, two-story townhouse with four bedrooms and three baths, including a downstairs bedroom and bath.

Each unit has its own attached two-car garage. The homes are attached not by the walls, but by the truss system, Saumure said. This, coupled with layers of insulation, reduces sound transfer, and contributes to the community's' detached home feeling, he added.

Unit prices range from the upper $500,000s to the low $600,000, he said.

While a number of upgrade options are available, even the no-frills version is "very well appointed" with slab granite countertops, Thermador appliances and Kohler fixtures, Saumure said.

Units also include decks, patios or courtyards, energy-saving dual-paned, eight-foot-high windows and nine-foot

A BARBECUE was held on Mare Island by Lennar to celebrate the opening of The Nautilus Collection of homes. Photo: J.L. Sousa/Times-Herald

ceilings. They also have ceiling fans, recessed lighting, stairway tread lights and hand-set ceramic tile floors in "wet" areas like the bathroom and kitchen.

Options include bamboo and other hardwood floors and "hundreds of tile and carpet options," Saumure said.

Central heating and air conditioning come standard, as does an energy-efficient, heat-producing gas fireplace and a recessed, zone-specific, temperature controlled and activated fire sprinkler system. Each unit also sports a pest-control management system that allows exterminators to plug into an exterior portal and pump chemicals inside the walls.

"It's a very eco-friendly, safe, system," Saumure said. "And the fireplaces offer all the ambiance of a fireplace without the mess."

Each model also includes a "tech center" or office space, equipped with CAT 5 voice and data wire technology.

"It's the first major community in Northern California to offer broadband throughout," Keadjian said.

The Nautilus' first sales will occur August 5, with an estimated construction completion date in time for occupancy by the end of the year, Saumure said. Offers are accepted on a first-apply-first-considered basis, he added.

Buyers select their customizing elements in advance, and are welcome to watch their home constructed, Saumure said.

Arranged in a horseshoe shape, each four-plex shares a common driveway. Owners will belong to a homeowners association which covers hazard insurance and water and takes care of exterior maintenance, including the roof, paint and landscaping.

A dozen units are handicapped-accessible and 15 others are easily adaptable, Saumure said.

As a planned community, there are certain rules to follow and owners aren't free to do just anything with their landscaping or exterior paint, Saumure said.

"There will be no purple units, for instance" he said. "We're offering this as a lifestyle choice."

Established in Britain in 1848, John Laing Homes' first project in Vallejo is The Nautilus, though it's not necessarily its

The developer holds a barbecue to celebrate. Photo: J.L. Sousa/Times-Herald

last, Saumure said.

"Depending on how well it goes, we may purchase more sites and build more on the island," Saumure said. "We felt it was an opportunity to work on Mare Island and in Vallejo and to offer a different lifestyle decision in the area, and we think this is a great location."

Considered a mid-sized builder, Laing has produced 3,000 homes in California and Colorado this year and is the second largest privately held builder in the country, Saumure said.

New Laing communities in Northern California are in various stages of completion in Hercules, Sacramento, Roseville, Lincoln, Elk Grove, Folsom and several other cities.

The Mare Island project has brought 40 to 60 workers to the island daily, who spend money locally, Saumure said, adding that the firm tries to hire as many locals as possible, as well. It's taken on Mare Island Elementary School as its "Civic Pride Program" project, donating money to the school's general fund, he added.

Well over 100 people have already expressed interest in The Nautilus, which is expected to build out in two years, Saumure said.


The Nautilus Collection

Owner: John Laing Homes, Newport Beach

Business Type: Housing

First opened: July 15

Location: 1139 Azuar Drive, Mare Island, Vallejo

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Phone/web: 552-4922 www.johnlainghomes.com

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