Stone not behind Princeville’s success

Joe Frisinger must have a direct line to the president’s source of “alternative facts.”

His article in the April 2 Garden Island on Jeff Stone and Princeville was full of incorrect information. Wonder why he wrote it? For example, Stone had nothing to do with the original development of Princeville. It was developed by Eagle Development, a group from Colorado in the late ‘60s to early ‘70s. This same group also developed Vail Ski Resort in Colorado. Harry True-blood was one of the original developers and they built the Makai golf course, the shopping center, Makai club, airport, the basic subdivision and the hotel.

The entrance fountains, Prince Golf Course and clubhouse were done by Qintex, a group from Australia that purchased the resort in the 1980s. They were completely redoing the hotel when they ran out of money. In 1989, Princeville was purchased by three Japanese corporations: Suntory, Mitsui and Nippon Shinpan. The hotel was finished only to be severely damaged by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

These owners kept the employees even though business was slow and they developed the Titcomb subdivision in Kilauea for employee housing and also Queen Emma’s Bluffs condos. Princeville is actually two phases: phase I is the developed area north of the main road and phase II is mostly south of the road. Stone did not develop the condos in phase II. They were done principally by private developers.

Jeff Stone, a developer from Oahu, in partner with Morgan Stanley, purchased the whole resort in 2005. At that time, I was president of the Princeville Community Association, which represents phase I. The Japanese owners personally called me to advise of the sale. Stone had very limited contact with phase I, probably because there is little left to develop with this phase.

Stone sold the shopping center, the hotel and Makai Golf Course. He mentioned eventually closing the very popular Prince Heath Club and Spa but said it would be replaced with something much better. The club and spa were closed and the pool filled in but nothing better or even equal was ever provided by Stone for the North Shore.

He also operated the Prince Course and Clubhouse with a Roy’s restaurant for a time. He then closed the Prince Course and clubhouse and partnered with a Chinese investor to develop a very-high-end private subdivision connected with the golf course.

My understanding is that Morgan Stanley was out of the picture at that time. This high-end project was to be operated by Discovery Land Corporation, a company that specializes in high-end properties. For some reason, this deal fell apart and nothing much has happened with Stone’s part of Princeville since then.

Stone has failed to maintain the part of the entry he owns and did not maintain the entry-reflecting pools. They are now torn down to be replaced, as I understand, with a series of rock walls. Stone has refused to compromise with phase I on the road and entry maintenance issue, and this is currently under litigation.

On Stone’s proposed development on the bluff over Hanalei, facts are, there was a hotel on the site. It was the Hanalei Plantation Hotel opened in 1959 by the Coco Palms owner Lyle Guslander. The hotel closed in 1972 and was converted to a Club Med, which lasted through the 1970s. In 1979, Honolulu developer Bruce Stark purchased the property and demolished the buildings. He did extensive site work and some construction, but the project went bankrupt in the mid-1980s.

Eventually, Stone, who acquired the property, sold it to Ohana Hanalei, LLC for $75 million for four contiguous parcels totaling 122 acres. Ohana Hanalei, LLC is a subsidiary of Ohana Real Estate Investment, the real estate arm of Ohana Holdings, which is owned by Honolulu billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Omidyar’s project never got started. My understanding is Stone has taken the property back to build the current planned project. If this does not work, then apparently the property goes back to Omidyar.

Princeville is a great community and a great place to live — but not due to Jeff Stone, rather in spite of him.


John Gordon is a Princeville resident.


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