Going, going … gone

WAIPOULI — An 11.78-acre slice of vacant, beachfront land set aside for the proposed Coconut Plantation Resort has new owners. 

And the buyers, who purchased it on Thursday at an absolute auction, didn’t have to look far beyond their backyard to find it. 

Gary Oda, president of the Honolulu-based general contracting company Allied Builders System, said he and at least two other business partners purchased the property because of its close proximity to three of their other investments: the Bull Shed Restaurant, Mokihana Lodge and the newly renovated Kauai Kailani condominium complex.

“It just made sense because they’re adjacent to each other, so we’re very happy,” Oda said after the midday auction held at the Courtyard Kauai at Coconut Beach. 

Though no asking price was attached to it, the opening bid started at $2 million and increased incrementally to the final price of $3.325 million. Only a handful of bids were actually made, and the winner was about $100,000 more than the second highest.  

The Coconut Plantation Resort property, wedged between the Courtyard Kauai at Coconut Beach and the Mokihana Lodge, was valued at $9.4 million for the 2015 tax year, according to county real property assessment records. 

William Bone, president of The National Auction Group, which was charged with selling it, said eight people from Hawaii, Texas and Nevada registered on Thursday to bid on the property, which was sold at nearly $3.66 million once a $332,500 buyer’s premium, an auction house fee paid by the buyer, was factored in.  

“We had some real serious bidders here today, so I think it was good for the community,” Bone said. “I think it shows there’s a real market here, because having a property sell at $3,657,500 in 30 minutes like that shows it’s a really good market — you can go to some markets and they’re hard to sell.”

Current permits for the property, approved by the county Planning Commission in 2007, also allow the new buyers to construct the previously planned Coconut Plantation Resort that included 192 multi-family units, six hotel rooms, associated amenities, 399 on-site parking spaces, a cultural preserve area, and vertical and lateral beach access paths. 

The land, however, sat vacant over the years as developers worked to get the project off the ground and resolve legal challenges by residents who were concerned about the project’s environmental and cultural impact on the Royal Coconut Coast. 

“Stewardship of this 12-acre property is so important, particularly because it is adjacent to the shoreline and marine resources, and because archaeological studies have identified significant cultural sites and burials,” Sierra Club Kauai Group executive committee member Rayne Regush wrote in an email after the auction.

No solid plans to develop the property are on the table, at least for now, Oda said.

“We’re going to kind of huddle up and see what we want to do with it,” he said. “At this point, we were just in the bidding because of its close proximity. I guess now that we’ve got it, we’ll take a look at what we want to do with it and maybe see if we can incorporate both properties into something.” 

A return to the drawing board, Regush said, would be appropriate, if plans to develop the property are eventually made.

“Should the new owners want to develop the 192-unit resort as permitted, we encourage them to downsize and provide buffer areas around the cultural sites rather than constructing buildings within these areas as the site plan proposed,” Regush said. “Reducing density would also alleviate Kapaa traffic challenges, which have worsened since the permit application was approved almost 10 years ago.”

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