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Shining star


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POSTED: Thursday, April 16, 2009

Only one bidder came forward at the public foreclosure auctions of residential and commercial units at the Ilikai outside the Circuit Court building in Honolulu yesterday.

New York-based lender iStar FM Loans LLC offered $35 million for 203 fee-simple residential condo units and $15 million for 16 commercial units sold in bulk.

Two separate auctions were held for the properties.

Attorney Steve Mau made the bids on behalf of iStar, but declined any comment.

Without any other contenders, Honolulu attorney and receiver George Van Buren declared iStar the highest bidder.

The sale is still subject to a confirmation hearing, to be scheduled some time in the next 30 days.

Van Buren said there were no surprises yesterday, but that many potential bidders were probably taking a strategic wait-and-see attitude.

Others still can come forward at the confirmation hearing with at least 105 percent of iStar's offer, he said, which would reopen the bidding process.

Van Buren said he communicated with at least 20 serious bidders both from Hawaii and the mainland before the auction.

In August, iStar filed a $75 million foreclosure suit against developer Brian Anderson and his companies, Anekona Islander LLC and Anekona Retail LLC.

Two months later, the Ilikai went into receivership after Anderson was unable to pay back lenders that were funding redevelopment plans for the landmark property.

Anderson was not present yesterday, but his attorney, Gary Dubin, said it was in everyone's best interest to keep the Ilikai open.

“;Both iStar and my client are hopeful the Ilikai will continue,”; said Dubin. “;We mutually hope to keep the hotel running.”;

Anderson's Anekona LLC bought the Ilikai units in July 2006 for

$218 million, with ambitious plans to reposition the property into an upscale condominium hotel before encountering problems.

The sale of the commercial units comes with the front desk, parking, restaurants, offices and meeting rooms.

Dozens of onlookers showed up for the auction yesterday, but there were no other registered bidders.

Audrey Maurer, a New Yorker who owns a one-bedroom unit at the Ilikai, says she hopes to ride out the changes.

“;I love the Ilikai,”; she said. “;I love the location, the ambiance, and I am happy it will be rejuvenated. I would be happy to see it better than it was.”;

Only one of two swimming pools is currently available, she said, and many restaurants are now shuttered, although Sarento's Top of the “;I”; is still open.

Members of Unite Here Local 5 also were on hand to garner support for more than 100 Ilikai union employees and their future.

Local 5 spokesman Cade Watanabe said it is important for the new operator to work with the union.

“;We don't want people to forget it's not just a piece of real estate,”; said Watanabe. “;There are workers, families and lives at stake here.”;