John King, a former fighter pilot, bought 79 acres of land near Kailua for $16 million.


John King, owner of a pool
business, looks to create his own
industrial park near Kailua

By Russ Lynch

A former Marine Corps fighter pilot who also spent 18 years flying for Aloha Airlines has developed a dream that might not be everybody's romantic ideal -- owning an industrial park next to a garbage transfer station.

John King closed a deal last week to buy 79 acres, for $16 million, from various Castle and Baldwin family trusts whose commercial side is managed by Kaneohe Ranch Co. Ltd.

"I kept trying to buy this for the last 10 years," he said.

After taking early retirement from Aloha at age 45 in 1987, King took a sublease on six acres of Castle Estate land on the Kapaa Quarry Road, next to part of Ameron Hawaii's facility that was producing wire mesh to hold together concrete foundations.

Ameron had the lease of the land owned in fee by the Harold L. Castle Kapaa Trust.

King started All Pool & Spa, a pool and tub installation and repair business that also sells pool-services chemicals and supplies.

Using prefabricated aluminum buildings that look like pre-World War II Quonset huts, he set about developing and renting warehouses and now has 22.

Many of the tenant businesses are in wood-working, including King & Zelko Hawaiian Woodworks LLC, which offers Koa four-poster beds and a range of other locally crafted items. It even has a $22,000 wooden rocking horse in its show room, made by another tenant in the complex, Holden Wood Design.

A wooden rocking horse created by Rob and Rita Holden of Holden Wood Design is on display at King & Zelco Hawaiian Woodworks, one shop in the industrial plaza on Kapaa Quarry Road near Kailua being developed by John King

King bought the Zelko the business and launched a new entity with his son Paul and daughter Laura as part-owners.

There was already a King's Custom Koa run by people whose name wasn't King and that is still on the property.

King said woodworkers find it convenient to be near each other since they can borrow each other's expensive tools and work together.

There is also an auto body repair shop. Out near the entrance, off Kapaa Quarry Road, Hardware Hawaii has a depot for lumber and other big items.

King built some 80,000 square feet of warehouse and light-industrial space over a decade and it is about 95 percent leased, he said.

Now he can expand into the rest of the 22.5 acres that is zoned for light industry and warehouses and he said that even though the rest of the 79 acres is preservation-zoned, there are commercial uses that can take place on that property.

An example in place already is a composting business, Hawaiian Earth Products, which takes yard trash and turns it into compost under a city contract.

The city planning and permitting department said the particular zoning, P-2, allows aquaculture, forestry, some crop production and a number of other uses.

The bottom line to King is that there are permissible uses for the preservation land but he has quite a way to go to use up the space zoned I-2.

He has been a tenant of Ameron, which still has six years or so to go on its lease. As the new owner he inherited that lease and became Ameron's landlord, King said.

He thinks it is a location that makes sense for many kinds of business.

"We're right between Kailua and Kaneohe. H-3 is right up the road," he said.

Industrial property is scarce in Honolulu and the alternative is much farther away in West Oahu.

Kaneohe Ranch had not put the property on the market. It finally "made sense at this time" to give in to King's pleas and sell it to him, said Molly Mosher-Cates, Kaneohe Ranch vice president.

The Castle properties managed by Kaneohe Ranch still have 375 acres of industrial-zoned land in the area, the Kapaa Quarry itself, she said. That part is leased to Ameron. Kaneohe Ranch also has industrial-zoned land in Kailua, she said.

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