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Kahuku Village residents group wants to buy land beneath homes

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Residents of Kahuku Village are proposing to buy out their landlord in a bid to keep their homes and preserve the character of the old plantation village on Oahu’s North Shore.

The proposal challenges a plan by the property’s Florida-based owner, Continental Pacific LLC, to sell the homes to residents at affordable prices.

Kahuku Village Association Inc., a nonprofit representing tenants in the community with 71 homes on leasehold land, announced its purchase plan on Wednesday, about three weeks before a July 31 date set by Continental Pacific to oust the association from representing tenants.

Jesse Schiel, a local attorney representing Continental Pacific, said the landowner has agreed to meet Friday with the association known as KVA with the understanding that the association’s role will be terminated July 31.

"Continental has always been open to proposals by KVA and anyone else interested in purchasing the property and keeping the homes affordable for tenants," Schiel said.

Continental Pacific aims to subdivide the property into fee-simple condominium lots and offer homes to existing tenants for an estimated $150,000.

At that estimated price per home, a purchase of all the property under the homes would total $10.65 million.

KVA wouldn’t disclose how much it intends to offer Continental Pacific for the village. KVA manager Deborah Sarsona said the offer price will be presented at Friday’s meeting. Sarsona said the association believes it can lessen the cost of homes for residents by assuming subdivision costs and eliminating any profit motive of Continental Pacific.

"We’re not in it to make a profit," she said. "We are afraid the future looks very bleak for these families if we do not succeed."

Sarsona said some residents fear that Continental Pacific stands to benefit from selling homes at market prices in cases where residents can’t purchase their home for any reason.

Glen Maghanoy, a Kahuku Village resident whose dad was a Kahuku Sugar Mill crane operator, fears that Continental Pacific might try to develop additional homes on the site or make other improvements that ruin the character of the community.

"We want to preserve our identity," he said before KVA’s announcement. "Continental said they want to help. If you want to help us, sell the land back to us. All we want is our village back."

One difficult issue for some residents is whether 25 homes that are in a floodway will be allowed to remain under Continental Pacific’s plan.

The city, under an approved existing-use permit, allows these homes to be rebuilt elsewhere on the property only if they are removed from the floodway by Dec. 31, 2015. If the homes aren’t removed by the deadline, they cannot be rebuilt or relocated later.

Schiel said Continental Pacific doesn’t intend to force anyone out of a floodway home, but wants to work with residents to relocate all 25 homes before the 2015 deadline. The company also said several residents want to move out of the floodway.

Continental Pacific’s plan for Kahuku Village is the company’s second proposal to residents. Previously, the company planned to sell the land under the homes to residents for $75,000 on average. But that plan was tied to the company being able to develop 18 beachfront house lots on another parcel it owns nearby.

The earlier plan also included giving Kahuku Golf Course to the city, donating two cemeteries to approved entities and building cabins at old Adams Field. But that plan didn’t advance.

Residents have been on month-to-month ground leases since July 2000. KVA is also on a month-to-month lease as the master lessee, which Continental Pacific intends to replace with Elite Properties assuming association management functions as of Aug. 1. Continental Pacific said rents will remain the same in most cases.

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