On deck


POSTED: Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nine months after purchasing the lands, a Utah-based investor is envisioning a golf academy above the Hawaii Kai Golf Course.

The proposal is likely to spark another debate at this evening's Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board meeting, where the public has weighed in on previous controversial development plans for the preservation-zoned parcels.

Management Solutions of Fountain Green, Utah, which formed Kulia i ka Nu'u Estates, acquired 83 acres in Mauuwai and 98 acres at Queen's Rise from QRM LLC in July.

City property tax records show two transactions occurred in July, one at $5.6 million and another at $3.5 million.

Kirk Soares of Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties brokered the deal and represented the buyer.

Project manager Skip McWhorter, who was in Honolulu this week, said Kulia envisions building a complete golf academy, with classrooms and simulators for individual and group instruction for just the Mauuwai parcel, although size and details have yet to be ironed out.

McWhorter said he also was in discussions with possible pro golf sponsors for the academy.

“;We would like to use the golf academy as a place to teach and train junior golfers,”; said McWhorter. “;Our goal is to continue to promote the game of golf in Hawaii. We want to provide an opportunity that is fun, recreational and beneficial for locals and junior golfers all over the island.”;

At the same time, McWhorter said it would make sense for there to be accommodations, possibly vacation cabins, at the site for out-of-town golfers.

“;If we don't have that there, we're left with people commuting back and forth from Waikiki,”; he said.

The two parcels are Management Solutions' first investment on Oahu, according to partner Allen Jacobson, from Utah. Jacobson said the company did 14 months of due diligence and has no plans for Queen's Rise at this time.

Permitted uses on P2 general preservation lands such as Mauuwai include cemeteries, outdoor recreational facilities and vacation cabins as an accessory to those outdoor facilities, according to city Planning and Permitting Director David Tanoue.

Vacation cabins would require a major conditional-use permit subject to a public hearing.

The developers are currently meeting with individuals and small groups to talk about the project, said McWhorter, and won't be applying for permits for several months.

A Web site is under construction.

Though no permits have been filed yet, the concept of a golf academy and vacation cabins already has some opposition.

“;I don't think a resort destination has a place within the Kalama Valley residential community,”; said neighborhood board member Elizabeth Reilly, who is with the nonprofit Livable Hawaii Kai Hui. “;Resort destinations belong out in Waikiki and Ko Olina.”;

Reilly said she would support a golf academy if the owners of the existing golf course wanted to build one through appropriate city channels. Any development in the area would alter the natural view plane from the Ka Iwi coastline.

“;You have a private landowner looking for a mechanism on how to build his cabins, and so he's introducing the idea of a golf academy,”; she said.

Reilly supports moving the parcels into a land trust.

Last year, QRM had envisioned building 181 vacation cabins, along with hiking trails and campgrounds on the mountainside above the Hawaii Kai golf course.

William McCorriston, an attorney representing QRM, attempted to strike a deal with the community, offering to transfer Queen's Rise to the city or a qualified nonprofit if it would agree to let QRM develop Mauuwai. But the proposal was quickly struck down.