View of the Kona Coast from Huehue Ranch; its name refers to the “bumps” of cinder cone on the flanks of Hualalai volcano
Huehue Ranch at its peak covered an estimated 8,000 acres to the north of what is now the town of Kailua Kona. Today the remaining 170 acres at the core of the historic ranch, including 3 recently restored ranch homes (the main house, “kid’s house”, and the manager’s house) and a caretaker cottage, is listed for only $3,695,000 (MLS# 231821).
Divided into several parcels of record, the new buyer could add a home or two on the upper parcels where views are even bigger…or, as the listing suggests, return the property to its ranching roots by adding to the small herd of cattle still grazing the ranch under the jacaranda and silver oak. If you want to plant crops rather than ranch, that is also an option: the property bordering this one to the north is a successful coffee farm, as the elevation, rainfall and soil make this location part of the Kona coffee belt.
The history of this property—not to mention the “best buy” pricing—explains why most of the prospective buyers are visitors or owners at the luxury resorts that spread out literally below Huehue Ranch: Kona Village, Hualalai Four Seasons, Kukio, Ka’upulehu. You may remember that in 2oou a group of investors led by Michael Dell bought one of their favorite spots in Hawai’i: the Hualalai Four Seasons and surrounding resort on the Big Island’s gold coast.
If you have stayed at the Kona Village Resort next door, you’ve probably heard the story of Johnno Jackson arriving in the 1960’s by schooner and building a resort along the salt-and-pepper beach that was still so inaccessible guests had to be flown in. Although the original fishing village there was abandoned thanks to Hualalai volcano’s 1801 eruption (the source of the lava flows that often surprise first-time visitors landing at Kona Airport!), both the Hawai’ian ali’i (chiefs) and today’s ali’i class consider this to be one of the most desirable chunks of real estate on the island. Ever wonder who owned it in between?
Yes, that’s right, you guessed it. Not only the most prime resort real estate on the Big Island, but also the Makalei Golf Course and Estates, were once part of Huehue Ranch!
That history also has some practical implications for the new owner of the Ranch. In return for allowing the subdivision and development of the parcels that were split off, zoning on the remaining “TMKs” (tax map key or parcels of record) was set at A-900a. In other words, in a literal sense it cannot be subdivided into less than a 900-acre parcel. In a practical sense, this sets a clear intent for preservation of the ranch in its current dimensions.
Hard to put a value on owning a piece of history, but here are my reasons to put this in the best buy category.
- Even without any buildings on it, the asking price works out to only around $21,700/acre. That’s about half what ranch or larger agricultural parcels are selling for in my North Kohala territory.
- Building three homes, a caretakers cottage, and working ranch facilities from scratch would easily cost this much without the value of the land.
- The current owners spent around $1 million on updating and outfitting the houses a couple of years ago. Their idea was apparently to do vacation rentals, but they never quite got around to it. From stainless steel refrigerators to automatic drip coffeemakers, the turnkey furnishings in some cases are still in their boxes!
- Very few properties are available that are already legal for multiple owners to each have a separate residence, or an extended family to enjoy a family compound. This one fits the bill.
Completely renovated, turnkey furnished, historic charm and irreplaceable materials intact
What I haven’t capture is the charm of the place. The lone paniolo on his cow pony checking fences in the distance. The flat area between the ranch manager and main houses where game birds were once raised for hunting, and generations of local families came for parties. The area up at the top where cowboys practiced their roping skills. The old wood and style of the buildings that bring back memories of summer camp or dude ranches. Contact me if you want to arrange a showing to see for yourself.
A hui hou,
Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)