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Originally published Monday, September 26, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Jimi Hendrix's boyhood house parked at mobile home

Some of the residents at the Hi-Land Mobilehome Manor here had an inkling the mobile-home property was for sale. It wasn't being taken care...

Seattle Times staff reporter

RENTON — Some of the residents at the Hi-Land Mobilehome Manor here had an inkling the mobile-home property was for sale.

It wasn't being taken care of, they said, with the park's laundry room shut down after being vandalized. It's a property that has seen better days, where near some of the 48 worn homes can be seen a discarded washing machine or torn easy chair. By the entrance sign, there is a rusting shopping cart.

The residents were understandably curious why Pete Sikov, a Seattle real-estate investor, bought the 3-acre property in June for $1.84 million.

The reason: so Jimi Hendrix's boyhood home, graffiti and all, could be trucked on Sept. 11 from the Central District and put on wood blocks at the front of the park.

This was an unusual turn of events at Hi-Land.

"It's kind of a good thing. I mean, this is getting to be a pricey block," said Mike Rystad, 45, a plumber who's lived at the park for nearly 16 years, and whose 10-by-50-foot home sits a stone's throw away from the new addition. "I'd rather have Jimi's house here than a bunch of expensive houses or condos."

Sikov, treasurer of the nonprofit James Marshall Hendrix Foundation, has spent the past four years trying to save the home in which Hendrix lived from age 10 until he was 13. He needed to find a new place for the tiny two-bedroom home where Jimi once played tunes on a ukulele with only one string on it.

Sikov saw an ad in the Sunday classifieds for the Renton property, which is across the road from Greenwood Memorial Park Cemetery where Hendrix was buried in 1970. He died at age 27 in London of a drug overdose.

Sikov set out to buy the property.

Once he did, the 48 tenants received notices that their leases would be extended through 2006, with rent next year increased from $360 a month to $370, which includes water and garbage. That's a relief to resident Jim Davis, 53, retired after three heart attacks and a triple bypass surgery.

Davis lives in a 1969 Lamplighter home with his wife, Dorothy, who's ill with a nervous-system disease.

Sikov said that his plans for the Hendrix home are to begin fixing it up, and "to convey a sense of what it was like when Jimi lived there."

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Sikov said he's also spent $70,000 to move the house twice, and $20,000 in legal fees as Sikov and the city of Seattle battled over the fate of the home, which had been moved to a city-owned lot. Sikov said he hopes that at some point the foundation will reimburse him for those costs.

He tried to explain his motivation. He's 51, and at his family home in Richland near the Hanford nuclear reservation — his dad, Mel Sikov, was a physicist — Sikov cranked up The Doors, Iron Butterfly and Steppenwolf.

"I grew up when community service was something you did because it was part of being a good citizen, not because you were on probation," he said. "I was asked to help Jimi's house by friends of the Hendrix family. There was urgency and a deadline. I was glad to help."

With his beard, long hair and penchant for wearing T-shirts, Sikov doesn't have the appearance of a real-estate mogul. He drives a 1995 Voyager minivan.

He is married to Helen Sikov, who has been a social worker and administrator at nursing homes.

Sikov said he worked for mental-health agencies before starting his own therapy practice.

He said he got into real estate when he was trying to calculate the college finances of his about-to-be-born daughter, Danielle Sikov, now 19. He began investing in fixer-uppers, including homes that had been used as drug houses.

Now, he said, he has interests in 40 to 50 properties, including historical buildings in Seattle, Everett and Walla Walla.

"I've kept a low profile. Once people know you're a millionaire, they're looking at you differently," he said.

Meanwhile, at the mobile-home park, Davis has taken on this new Jimi experience with enthusiasm.

He has put Hendrix photos up inside and outside the home. He has tacked up the vinyl LPs of Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland" on the living-room wall.

Rock history has come to Hi-Land Mobilehome Manor.

"This was the last thing I ever expected," resident Davis said.

Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com

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