Hana Ranch up for sale
The owners of the 4,500-acre property are looking abroad for potential buyers
The major upheaval in the capital markets has prompted the owners of the Hana Ranch to seek a foreign buyer for the roughly 4,500 acres of pasture lands in the isolated town on Maui.
Hana Ranch Partners LLC - the majority shareholder of which is a part of the Getty Trust, one of California's largest private trusts for the benefit of San Francisco billionaire Gordon Getty and his family - last week listed the property for $65 million, targeting foreign buyers from Asia, Europe and Canada, according to Harrison Sheppard, a San Francisco attorney and member of the executive committee of Hana Ranch Partners.
"The investors, at least some of them, feel their assets have been tied up in the property long enough," he said. "I imagine they're feeling the liquidity crunch as much as anyone. Precisely because of the state of the market and relative weakness of the dollar, this is a good time to market to foreign purchasers."
The partners - which include San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom - had explored a sale for more than a year, and recently hired Sotheby's International Realty to globally market the property, Sheppard said.
The owners have received about a half-dozen inquiries from prospective buyers, though they're not yet involved in detailed negotiations, he said.
Hana Ranch Partners, which has a minority interest in Maui Cattle Co., purchased the property as an investment in 2001 for about $25 million and is seeking to find like-minded conservationists to preserve the rural nature of Hana.
"They are conservation-minded, but they're also businessmen," Sheppard said. "They had intended to eventually sell the property after its appreciation."
The partners earlier decided to preserve 41 oceanfront acres from future development, under a conservation easement agreement with the Maui Coastal Land Trust, and has designated 100 acres of land for affordable housing. Though some lots are designated for home construction, no effort has been made to market the properties for residential development, he said.
Despite the strong conservation mission of the current partnership, some in the rural town fear new owners may not have the same philosophy.
"The only concern would be if we will still have the rights to go down to go fishing and camping," said Chantelle Balanga, a Hasegawa General Store clerk, who has lived in Hana for about 18 years.
The ranch property, adjacent to the Hotel-Hana Maui & Honua Spa, which was pulled off the market late last year following the credit crunch, has been a major part of the character of the small town, estimated to have fewer than 2,000 residents, according to the last available state census in 2000.
"There's always going to be concern that if somebody buys it, if they can't make go of it in agriculture, could it get developed?," said Dale Bonar, executive director of the Maui Coastal Land Trust. "The answer is always yes, but the goal is not to do it. The ranch is working hard to find a conservation buyer who will keep it as intact as possible and keep the sense of Hana there."