KALIHIWAI — Joan Porter is selling Wai Koa Plantation, the legacy property that’s home to Stone Dam and the Wai Koa Loop Trail.
Hawaii Life realtors Matt Beall and Neal Norman are handling the sale for the full 520 acres, split over two parcels and situated between Kawaihau Ridge, Anaina Hou and Common Ground on the North Shore.
The real estate agents couldn’t release the asking price on Monday, but did say if all goes well, the public won’t see much difference in goings on in the area. Stone Dam and Wai Koa Loop Trail will stay open, as they’re under a conservation easement with Hawaii Islands Lands Trust.
Currently, Stone Dam is closed as it was heavily damaged in the April 2018 flood and is still being repaired.
“In a perfect world, not much changes,” Beall said on Monday. “Our task is to find someone as equally philanthropic as Bill and Joan were and can see it (Wai Koa Plantation) to the next level.”
Some of the tenants and holders of license agreements are feeling a little pressure, though, as the sale is triggering the need to relocate — at least temporarily.
Megan Fox of Malama Kauai said July 12 that they received a notice to vacate the eight acres that serve as home for the Kalihiwai Community Farm, where community members farm 42 different plots. It’s also home to Kauai’s food forest.
They’ve already been planning a move, though, and Fox says the notice to vacate has helped push them to their next step.
The organization has found a parcel on the east side that they’re targeting for the new ag park and are raising money to purchase the land.
“We’ve been working on a solid plan for an ag park with housing for years, so we’re hopeful that it’s now time for that project to come to fruition to make our new home,” Fox said. “We’re thankful to the Porters for providing us access to this beautiful space for over a decade and grateful for the tens of thousands of hands that have stewarded this ‘aina during that time.”
Other tenants, like Kauai Fresh Farms, declined to go on record about the sale.
Real estate agents say they’re not holding their breath for a buyer just yet, but alerting tenants and leaseholders was “the right thing to do.”
Wai Koa Plantation is a parcel that has a plantation-era history and has been in the Porter family for decades. It’s home to some agriculture, the largest mahogany forest in the United States, community greenhouses and ranching.
Bill and Joan Porter weren’t just landowners in the Kalihiwai area, though. They put money and effort into preserving their 520 acres, keeping access open for hikers, and creating a community center for gatherings, markets and movies — Anaina Hou Community Park.
Porter Pavilion is named in their honor as the Porters founded and funded Anaina Hou through 2019. Bill died in 2015 and this year, Joan decided to leave island and withdraw support, pushing Anaina Hou to sustain itself.
As realtors eye buyers for Wai Koa Plantation, they say they see the unique aspects of the land — including the Wai Koa Loop Trail and Stone Dam — as amenities, even though they know some landowners would see committing to hosting the trail as an “eyeroll.”
“It shrinks the demographic of prospects, but that’s why we had to take the marathon approach instead of coming out with guns blazing,” Beall said. “(We had to) balance the approach with doing the right thing for the tenants.
“The point is that we’ll do what we can to keep the land, not just in ag, but in the best possible expression of ag.”
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or at firstname.lastname@example.org