Private Prince

A private 8,000-acre, 350-unit residential community will be developed over the next decade in the North Shore community of Princeville, with the Prince Golf Course as the centerpiece.

When finished, “Princeville at Hanalei” will have its own polo and beach clubs, lodge, nature trails, golf course, restaurants, airport, spa and more.

Jeff Stone, Hawaii landowner and founder of The Resort Group, unveiled details of the project during an exclusive interview with The Garden Island on Thursday.

“The idea is to create a private community where the members will agree to pay to be great stewards, to maintain the land,” he said.

Start to finish, The Resort Group and its new partner Reignwood International, an investment firm owned by billionaire Thai-Chinese businessman Chanchai Ruayrungruang, plan to spend at least $500 million on the project, according to Stone.

The resort community will be managed by Discovery Land Company, which operates 17 private projects around the country, including Montana’s exclusive Yellowstone Club ski resort, Makena on Maui and Kuki‘o on Big Island.

The Prince Golf Course is slated to close Dec. 31, with Discovery assuming management the following day. It is expected to reopen in mid-2016 following $50 million in renovations, including a brand new clubhouse and improved greens, fairways and cart paths.

Course renovations will be overseen by original architect, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The overall layout will remain the same; however, Stone said the plan is to make the course easier and more playable.

Stone said the Prince is the best course in Hawaii, but cannot sustain itself without a resort community around it. For the last 10 years, he said it has been losing $3 million annually.

“It is magnificent,” Stone said of the Prince. “But there’s no one on it.”

By bringing in Discovery and establishing a private community, Stone plans to save it.

Discovery takes over management from Montage Golf, a division of Montage Hotels & Resorts, which will result in 58 employees being laid off Dec. 31. Stone said that while he doesn’t want to lose the employees, the course must remain closed between 12 and 18 months. 

Discovery plans to employ about 250 people — more than four times the current labor force.

“It’s just a great opportunity to have Discovery as part of our community,” Stone said.

As for what it will cost to become a member of Princeville at Hanalei, Stone said fees will likely be comparable to the Yellowstone Club.

According to one CNBC report, membership at the Yellowstone Club costs an initial $300,000, plus annual dues of $30,000. Additionally, members must purchase a property, which start at $2.5 million for a condo and go up to more than $10 million for a ranch.

Stone said Phase II of the community master plan for Princeville Resort was initially approved for about 3,500 units. His plan for the private community is to start with 268 units and eventually reach 350.

Twenty “equestrian homes,” as Stone called them, will be built on 75 acres surrounding the now-abandoned but soon-to-be-reborn polo fields at Anini. Seventy-five homes, each on a 5-acre lot, will be located along the ridge. And an additional 173 units will make up what will be known as the Lodge Villas, located near the golf course.

A private Anini Beach Club will be located just inland from the western end of Anini Beach. Stone said plans also call for upgrades to the Princeville Airport, including rebuilding hangars and expanding the runway.

Stone said while the word “private” often leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, there is nothing negative about the sustainable, low-density, one-of-a-kind resort community he has planned.

“How do we take this beautiful environment, lower the density to a density that fits with the vision of the North Shore?” he asked. “That’s what we’ve done.”

In 2005, The Resort Group, with Morgan Stanley as partner, acquired the 9,000-acre Princeville Resort from Japanese beer maker Suntory. The sale included the 252-room St. Regis resort (formerly The Princeville Hotel) now managed by Starwood, the Prince and Makai golf courses and club facilities, Princeville Tennis Club, Princeville Health Club and Spa, Princeville Shopping Center, Princeville Airport, Princeville Ranch and historic taro lands in Hanalei Valley.

During Phase 1 of the development, Stone led the $15 million renovation of the Makai Golf Course and its facilities, the update of Princeville Shopping Center, the $85 million renovation of St. Regis Princeville Resort, the $200 million construction of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas and the $10 million renovation of the Prince Golf Course.

In September, 1,103 acres of the Princeville Resort was acquired through a partnership between The Resort Group and Reighwood International, valued at $343 million. And earlier this month, Discovery Land Company was selected to manage the development. 

“The Princeville lands are truly sacred, and we intend to develop them in a way that pays homage to their purity,” Discovery founder Michael S. Meldman said in a recent release. “We are fortunate to be in partnership with The Resort Group and Reignwood, both of whom share our strong belief that responsible development draws inspiration from the environment and local customs of the property’s location.”

Chris D’Angelo, environment writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cdangelo@thegardenisland.com.

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