Lee Cataluna: Cost concerns doom plans for preserve in Aina Haina
Last year, a nonprofit organization bought a stretch of undeveloped hillside below Hawaii Loa Ridge in East Honolulu for a notable price: $380,000 for 75 acres in one of the priciest neighborhoods in Hawaii.
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Last year, a nonprofit organization bought a stretch of undeveloped hillside below Hawaii Loa Ridge in East Honolulu for a notable price: $380,000 for 75 acres in one of the priciest neighborhoods in Hawaii. The head of the nonprofit said the intention was to keep the property, zoned P-1 preservation land, as a preserve. There was talk of a pilot program to introduce native plants to the area.
Last month, that same parcel was put on the market. The listing price for the Aina Haina land, known as 184 Puuikena Drive, is $1.1 million.
The text accompanying the listing reads:
“Once in lifetime opportunity for a Oahu, Hawaii property of over 75 acres situated between Aina Haina valley and Hawaii Loa Ridge with incredible views of the Pacific Ocean. Private and secluded yet close to town. Hawaii Loa Ridge Preserve is part of the Na Ala Hele system. Existing DNLR approved improvements include aluminum car port, aluminum garage/work shed, 3 PV panels with batteries, inverter and controller, water catchment system and 2 gazebos. Provisions exist to build single-family home of your dreams … Truly a rare and unique property.”
John Guagliardo, executive director of Hawaii Loa Ridge Preserve, the nonprofit selling the land, said, “It wasn’t something we gave up lightly. We’re disappointed we have to sell it. It’s a heartbreak to sell it.”
What changed, Guagliardo said, was money. Maintaining the land and addressing community concerns became too expensive. The difference in price, he said, reflects an attempt to recoup funds to try to establish the preserve.
“Please convey our statement that we had accomplished many of our goals and have focused our efforts on public safety,” Guagliardo wrote in an email. “Since last year, we have had a chance to meet with almost all of our neighbors and community organization and were able to address any concerns they had had. It was a very productive year, but a bit more expensive then we expected. Unfortunately, we were unable to raise the necessary funds to continue the foundation. With a heavy heart we have listed the property for sale. Hopefully the next stewards of the ridge will continue with the mission and preservation policies we have worked so hard to make.”
The land was purchased with a donation from the World Library Foundation, an international organization. The parcel is a leftover from the development of Hawaii Loa Ridge in the 1980s. Before being purchased in 2017 from the Atherton Richards Trust, the property had been on the market for years, initially listed at over $2 million. Gradually the price dropped, reflecting the difficulty in developing a hillside zoned for preservation in one of the most well-established and active neighborhoods in Honolulu. People notice and start asking questions when there is movement on 75 acres above their Aina Haina homes on land that has otherwise been dormant for decades.
Guagliardo spoke to the Kuliouou-Kalani Iki Neighborhood board several times over the last year. Concerns were raised about rockfall mitigation and the nonprofit’s long-term intentions for the land. He said that so far, there have been no offers on the property.
Reach Lee Cataluna at 529-4315 or email@example.com.