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Condo Mania

Condominiums are the Newest Crop Growing on Kauai’s Agriculture Land

Rezoning agricultural land to subdivided residential lots is very often a long and complicated process. For years the only other option for multiple owners of such land was a co-tenancy interest in the total property. So land owners and developers on Kauai found a legal way to skirt the issue. “It’s called CPR (condominium property regime), and it’s a big trend that’s been going on here for years,” says Michael Schmidt, principal broker for Kauai-based Coldwell Banker Bali Hai Realty. “Prior to CPR, if one owner wanted to give or transfer a home he would just be marked with problems.”

With a CPR, an apartment owner is entitled to exclusive ownership of the apartment but the land is a common element, owned jointly in common with other apartment owners in the condominium project. CPR is advantageous in that way because it allows for separate mortgages and property taxes for each apartment owner. “Simplifying,” rather than skirting the process, is how developers like to put it.

Schmidt currently has four designated agricultural CPR home sites in the northeastern community of Kilauea on the market, ranging in size from six and a half to 13 acres. He says although there are no actual requirements for agricultural use, the developers certainly want to promote “equestrian activity and resurrection of the areas historical elements, including old sugar cane irrigation systems, flumes and stone dams.”

From Sea To Shining Sea: Kealia Plantation Co.'s 6,700 acres streches from Kealia beach to Donkey beach.

Schmidt is an advocate of CPR’s and claims all it does is save time, not dance around property and zoning laws. “Per the county, the property is allowed a certain number of homes. We’re certainly not changing density that’s allowed, but what we want is to avoid the whole subdivision process, which is difficult and time-consuming,” he says.

One development company in particular turned some heads when an announcement was made that several CPR’s would be made available on its prime piece of land – the 300-acre parcel Kealia Kai. In 1998, the husband-and-wife duo of Justin and Michele Hughes, owners of Kealia Plantation Co., purchased 6,700 acres of former Amfac/JMB sugar land for $16.5 million, according to the Bureau of Conveyances. The lot stretches from Kealia beach to Donkey beach and from the mountains to the sea.

Currently only the makai portion of the land has been developed and entitled for sale. “So far, no one’s really been interested in buying any of the CPR lots,” says Michele, who along with Justin also owns other properties on Kauai, California and Colorado.

Interestingly, prices for the CPR lots, which range from 10.8 acres to 38.9 acres in size, are not that much different from the remaining 25 smaller lots available. The largest CPR lot, for example, is on the market for $1.85 million, while two five-acre lots have just sold for $1.9 million each. “It’s probably because they don’t have as good a view (as the other lots),” she jokes.

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Hawaii Business,October