Famed Ilikai may shut its hotel facilities


POSTED: Friday, January 16, 2009

A court-appointed receiver for the iconic Ilikai hotel has filed a motion to shut down the Waikiki landmark property on Feb. 8 after its lender refused to pay for ongoing operations.




Lights out for Ilikai

        The Ilikai hotel opened in 1964 and has 1,009 rooms, including timeshare units, units separately operated in a condominium rental pool and units owned by individual homeowners.

What is closing:


» Rental operations for 203 units owned by Big Island developer Brian Anderson


» Front desk


» Bell desk


» Housekeeping


» Engineering


» Administrative offices


» Portions of parking garage


About 150 full- and part-time workers will be affected by the closure of the circa-1960s hotel, immortalized in the television show “;Hawaii Five-O.”;

“;My hands are essentially tied,”; said Joseph Toy, whose receivership of the property began Oct. 29 as part of a $75 million foreclosure suit brought by lender iStar FM Loans LLC. “;It's something I'm reluctant to do, but given the circumstances I really have no choice.”;

A Circuit Court judge approved last month iStar's petition to foreclose on 203 units and commercial space owned by troubled Big Island developer Brian Anderson. The move paves the way for the sale of Anderson's units, either in bulk or individually, likely through a public auction. In that case, there is no guarantee the property will remain a hotel and could become a timeshare operation or sold off individually.

Anderson declined comment yesterday. A court hearing on the motion is scheduled for Feb. 3.

iStar informed Toy in a letter dated Jan. 9 that the residential assets were losing more than $300,000 per month since at least October 2008.

“;There is no reasonable prospect under any circumstance that the residential property will appreciably decrease this operating loss, much less generate a profit, in the foreseeable future,”; Bert Haboucha, iStar senior vice president, said in the letter.

Retail operations, under a separate loan agreement, will continue to operate with lender financing contingent upon adequate financial statements, he said.

“;iStar is making a business decision in light of the tough economic times,”; said Toy, who is developing shut-down procedures for the condominium hotel, which has a total of 1,009 rooms, including 140 timeshare units and 170 units separately operated in a condominium rental pool.

The New York-based lender filed the foreclosure in August on the residential and retail mortgages held by Anderson and his Anekona companies, whose condominium hotel has been plagued for the last several years by controversy over its redevelopment.

The closure of the Y-shaped hotel at the entrance of Waikiki significantly will affect property values for its more than 600 homeowners, according to Lyle Hosoda, attorney for the Owners of the Ilikai Apartment Building Inc., which is owed nearly $1 million in back electricity and maintenance fees by Anekona.

“;That's a really sad situation from the owners' perspective,”; he said. “;They can't afford to go further and further into the hole by paying for hotel operations to continue.”;

Unless the matter is resolved with iStar, the entire property could go dark, according to Hosoda.

“;What if an elevator breaks down and somebody's stuck in there or what if somebody needs electricity for a medical issue?,”; he said. “;There's a lot of different scenarios that could happen and people could be affected in a big way.”;

Anekona LLC bought 343 units and the Ilikai's common areas in July 2006 for $218 million with ambitious plans to reposition the property into an upscale condominium hotel. To make the transaction feasible, Anderson sold the 360-room Yacht Harbor Tower, along with the ballroom and central swimming pool, to San Diego-based eRealty Cos. for more than $100 million.

Since then, the middle-aged property has deteriorated with broken elevators, boarded-up amenities and plummeting occupancy and has turned into a scene of animosity between the developer and homeowners, tenants and investors - many of whom have taken their frustrations to court.

Anderson's dreams came crumbling down when units sales failed to materialize, battles with homeowners and investors mounted and the economy took a severe turn for the worse.

“;It will be an unfortunate and sad day for both workers, owners and the people of Hawaii for this historical landmark to close,”; said Cade Watanabe, spokesman for Unite Here Local 5, which represents 70 union employees at the Ilikai.