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Honolua land worth buying

Monday, April 23, 2007 11:34 AM


There’s nothing more worth saving for the future than shoreline property. The beaches have been developed and, bit by bit, bluffs overlooking the ocean are being developed, effectively changing the character of the area.

Once upon a time, plantations and ranches owned most of Maui’s coastal lands. The population was low and the corporate bosses really didn’t care what individuals did next to the ocean as long as it didn’t interfere with operations.

Those days are gone.

The latest touchstone in the fight to preserve something of Maui’s rural character is Honolua Bay, a marine conservation area surrounded by land owned by Maui Land & Pineapple Co.

As part of his restructuring of ML&P, Chairman, President and CEO David Cole has proposed building an 18-hole golf course and 40 luxury home sites at Lipoa Point, which is on the west side of Honolua Bay. ML&P acquired the property as part of its takeover of Baldwin Packers pineapple operations in West Maui.

County Council Member Jo Anne Johnson, the Save Honolua Bay Coalition and others are urging the county to acquire the some 100 acres of land. It’s a sound idea. The question is how.

According to Mayor Charmaine Tavares, Cole is at least willing to talk about turning the area over to the public. There will be a price tag. Like any businessman, Cole looks to his profit and loss statement and has been offsetting pineapple losses with real estate sales.

Johnson suggested $1 million in good-faith money in park assessment funds. The county has an open-space fund available. There are local and national organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and the Maui Coastal Land Trust that could be brought in the discussions. The public could raise some of the funds needed.

A couple of things to remember when negotiating for the property – a definite must do. ML&P’s cost of the land has long-since been amortized. A sale price should be based on Maui Pine’s projected profit after all the anticipated development costs. Just avoiding all the hassle of trying to develop the property should be worth a considerable discount in the price.


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