Wednesday, June 6, 2001

City & County of Honolulu

Council committee
approves proposal to
open golf course

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

The idle Royal Kunia Golf Course likely will be open for play by the end of the year, under an agreement approved by the City Council's Zoning Committee yesterday.

JAC Hawaii, owner of the 164-acre course, would no longer be required to pay the city $13 million in community impact fees originally promised by former developers Royal Oahu Resort Inc. and Halekua Development Corp.

The course has remained unopened since it was completed in 1994 because only $12 million of the $25 million impact fee required by the city was paid.

Under the new agreement, owners and creditors have agreed to pay the city $2.5 million and a dollar per round for the life of the course.

Hideaki Okuhara, JAC president and chief executive officer, said after yesterday's meeting that assuming City Council approval of the agreement by the end of summer, the course should be open for play by December. Construction on a clubhouse would begin in the fall and be constructed in about a year.

At least half the tee times must be set aside for public play. An initial clause requiring the owner to charge municipal rates was dropped. But under grilling by Councilman Romy Cachola, Okuhara gave assurances that rates for locals would at least be competitive with other area courses.

Councilwoman Rene Mansho, who represents the Kunia region, endorsed the agreement that she and Council Chairman Jon Yoshimura reached with JAC Hawaii. "This is better than sitting for seven years with an idle golf course," she said, noting that JAC Hawaii intends to spend $10 million in improvements and will have between 40 and 50 full-time employees.

Zoning Chairman John DeSoto described the $25 million impact fee, imposed by the Fasi administration in 1991 at the height of the state's economic boom -- as "extortion fees."

Councilman Duke Bainum said he doubts the $13 million would have been paid, or the course opened.

Okuhara told the Star-Bulletin that he is still hoping to bring either a PGA Tour, Senior PGA Tour or LPGA Tour event to the course.

City & County of Honolulu

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