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Queen Emma has tract ideas


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POSTED: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Queen Emma Land Co. is making new plans for a 33,000-square-foot tract in the heart of Waikiki following an abrupt decision by Orlando, Fla.-based Celebrity Resorts to close its time-share property earlier this month.

Celebrity Resorts Waikiki—the former White Sands Waikiki Resort Club at 431 Nohonani St., has been roped off since rent negotiations between sublessee Celebrity Resorts and landowner Queen Emma ended. Negotiations to extend the long-term lease, which expires next March, were prolonged, said Les Goya, vice president of Queen Emma.

“;Because our existing leasee, Walina Leasing and Arctic Passage, was somewhat passive in their position, Celebrity approached us about assuming the lease,”; Goya said. “;They presented an offer and we countered.”;

Celebrity Resorts told Queen Emma Land Co. that it might shut down if an agreement could not be reached, he said.

“;We got wind from some of the time-share owners that the operation would be closing,”; Goya said.

Queen Emma has hired a consultant to recommend the best use for the apartment-zoned property in the Waikiki Special District, he said.

When the lease ends, the property will revert back to Queen Emma for the first time in some 40 years, Goya said.

“;The rent has gone up substantially,”; he said.

Queen Emma's ground leases also expire in 2010 for the Miramar, Ohana Waikiki West, Hawaiian Prince Apartments and three condominium developments totaling 54 units on Kanekapolei Street.

While Walina Leasing and Arctic Passage has continued to make lease payments on its 28,000-square-foot portion, Celebrity Resorts defaulted on a separate 5,000-square-foot tract that was leased directly to them, Goya said.

“;We are still trying to recoup the payment that was due Jan. 1,”; he said.

Carly Powell, a spokeswoman for Celebrity Resorts, confirmed that the property was closed; however, she did not respond to a request for more information.

As of yesterday, Celebrity Resorts had not told owners that the Waikiki resort was closed, said John Olsen, of Carmichael, Calif., who has been a resort member since 1983.

“;Many members are probably not aware that the resort is closed and will not be made aware until they call for a reservation,”; Olsen said, adding that he made four unsuccessful attempts to reserve his annual week at the Waikiki resort.

Olsen said Celebrity Resorts offered him a week at another location if he paid a special assessment of $695 on top of the $775 in annual maintenance fees that he had already paid. Celebrity Resorts threatened Olsen and others, who have not paid the assessment, with financial retribution, he said.

“;I paid for Waikiki, and that is what my contract is all about,”; Olsen said. “;The White Sands is not close to being a $1,470-per-week resort, in my opinion.”;

Olsen asked Celebrity Resorts to waive the additional charges and filed a complaint with Hawaii's Regulated Industries Complaints Office, he said.