Lingle, Turtle Bay owners have 1st meeting
After two months of speculation, Gov. Linda Lingle met for the first time yesterday with the owners of the Turtle Bay Resort, in what were described as positive talks revolving around current market conditions and her vision for the financially troubled North Shore property.
"We had a very serious, business-like discussion," said Ted Liu, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, who attended the governor's meeting, along with Linda Smith, her senior policy advisor. "They are very much aware of our interest, our vision and we had a very good conversation."
Two senior executives of resort owner Oaktree Capital Management LP, including John Brady, managing director and head of the global real estate group, attended the two-hour closed-door meeting, before leaving through a private elevator in the governor's office.
"It was a very positive meeting and we look forward to ongoing discussions with the governor," Brady said. "She understands our obligations to our lenders, our employees and others in the community. It is a complex situation, but we are willing to work toward a viable solution."
It was the first meeting between the governor and Los Angeles-based Oaktree since Lingle publicly pledged in her Jan. 22 State-of-the-State address that the state would attempt to acquire the 850-acre resort, to protect the character of one of Oahu's last remaining rural coasts. Liu said the governor had intended to meet with Oaktree earlier, but had scheduling conflicts.
Kuilima Resort Co., the Oaktree subsidiary that has owned Turtle Bay since 1988, has plans to develop up to 3,500 hotel and condominium units. It also is trying to work out an agreement with Credit Suisse Group to resolve a $283 million foreclosure lawsuit the lender filed against the company in December.
No other meeting dates have been scheduled between the governor and Oaktree, though both parties left the meeting knowing that they would be in touch, Liu said.
Lingle is expected to discuss the outcome of the meeting today with a 17-member Turtle Bay Advisory Working Group, created to come up with strategies on acquiring the resort. The governor's office declined comment yesterday.