June 18, 2018
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Billionaire submits plans to build MDI mansion

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

MOUNT DESERT, Maine — Twelve bathrooms, 18,000 square feet of finished living space and two attached guest wings are among the features billionaire Steven M. Rales proposed to include in a new mansion he is building on Somes Sound, in the local village of Northeast Harbor.

The plans for the project, to be built on the former Patricia Scull property on Sargent Drive, were sent to Mount Desert Code Enforcement Officer Kim Keene a few weeks ago. Keene said Friday there are a few minor details in the building permit application that still need to be addressed, but she expects to issue Rales a construction permit in the next week or so.

Rales already has been given a permit to build the foundation for the mansion, she said. He purchased the 4.5-acre property in May 2012 for $7 million.

This will be the second mansion in Northeast Harbor owned by a billionaire named Rales. Steven Rales’ brother, Mitchell P. Rales, built a house with an assessed value of $7.8 million on the former Susan Mary Alsop property on Peabody Drive in 2010. The 4.6-acre Peabody Drive property, which includes separate guest quarters and a boathouse, has an overall assessed value of $15.5 million.

Together, the two brothers founded and control Danaher Corp., a conglomerate that specializes in producing scientific and technological equipment and services. According to Forbes Magazine, Mitchell Rales has an estimated net worth of $4 billlion and Steven Rales has an estimated net worth of $3.7 billion.

Steven Rales also owns the film production company Indian Paintbrush, which has produced or co-produced films such as “The Darjeeling Limited,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and, more recently, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

His compound, which is referred to as “Driftwood Cottage” on documents filed at the town office, differs from his brother’s home in that it will have 5,000 more square feet of finished living space. With stone terraces, covered porches and cedar shingles on the exterior walls and sloping roofs, it also will have a more traditional look than his brother’s house.

The basement level of the house will include a property manager’s office, staff quarters, a dog-washing station, a room for wine storage and arranging flowers, and an exercise and massage room. The main floor of the house will include a kitchen, family room, dining room, a living room and library, and other related features.

The second floor of the house will be dedicated to the master bedroom suite for Rales and his wife, Lalage Damerell, whom he married in a private ceremony in Northeast Harbor in 2012. There will be separate “his” and “her” bathrooms, each with its own bidet, according to the drawings, and a dressing room that, at roughly 350 square feet, will be slightly larger than the master bedroom.

There will be an attached two-story guest wing on the north side of the house and another two-bedroom guest apartment over a three-bay garage. Connecting the house to the garage will be a copper-covered “porte cochere,” under which cars will drive into a courtyard outside the home’s main entrance.

There also will be a walled garden on the southern end of the house, outside the family room, and a separate 475-square foot studio office on the southwest corner of the garden, facing the water.

The house has been designed by architecture firm Keith Kroeger Associates of Bedford, New York. The general contractor on the project, according to drawings at the town office, will be Mike Temple of Hampden, Maine.

Engineers and contractors working for Steven Rales have told Keene the anticipated completed construction cost for the project is $9.4 million.

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