Hawaii County

Buyers are eager
for Big Isle land deal

Part of the former sugar land
will be used for a coffee farm
and cattle grazing

HILO >> Hawaii County will finalize the sale of farm land -- part of 4,418 acres purchased in the 1994 Hamakua Sugar Co. tax foreclosure -- for $1.37 million, said Stanley Iwamoto of the county Finance Department.

Three parcels of land totaling 227 acres are being bought.

Edward and Diana Quaintance, along with two other couples, are purchasing 148 acres for $500,000. Quaintance, a former Hamakua Sugar employee, currently farms the adjoining property. The sale should close Oct. 10, and the couple plans to expand their coffee farm and graze cattle on the new land.

"The county has bent over backwards to make it work for us little people," said Diana Quaintance. "It's nice to see that those living here can turn it into something good for the local economy."

South Kohala Management of South Kohala is buying 77.4 acres for $515,000.

"We don't have specific plans for the property yet," said company owner and president Tom Hagen, a 23-year Big Island resident. "We've had some interest from ranchers, so we may sublease some for grazing, but we don't plan to break the land up and start selling it off piece by piece."

Hagen said the company is not seeking to change the land's agricultural classification.

An Oregon woman is buying the third parcel of 51 acres for $350,000. Her plans for the land are unknown.

Over the past 10 years the county has explored various options to dispose of the land. An attempt to sign a long-term lease with Japan's Oji Paper Co. fell through.

Iwamoto said the county is also negotiating to sell an additional 660-acre parcel.

He says the county is in the process of reconfiguring the other tracts of former Hamakua Sugar Co. land in preparation for sale.


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