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Luxury Resort Community Envisioned Near Miloli‘i, but County Says Plenty of Permitting, Approval Still Needed

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A high-end development team is soliciting investors to build a gated luxury resort community north of Miloli‘i.

Called The Kona Estates at Ophihale, the envisioned project boasts a heliport inside the “luxury estate community situated on 324 oceanfront and ocean-view acres on the famous Kona Coast of the Big Island Hawaiʻi,” according to the the development firm, Kona Development Partners.

An online presentation on the project at investinkona.com describes the proposed subdivision and its amenities.

“Within The Kona Estates at Opihihale will exist a 40-Villa Boutique Resort and clubhouse with a resort style pool, restaurant and bar, heliport, walking and biking trails, health club, spa, kids club, and event area,” the presentation states. “This boutique resort will be used to host prospective residents during real estate sales, be available to Kona Estates residents without restriction, and enhance the overall community experience.”

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The presentation promises to provide “resort amenities to its residents and affluent guests.” It goes on to state that the group is accepting minimum investments of $100,000 and offers interested investors a chance to schedule a call with the developers.

The development includes an “offsite interactive showroom” on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, the news publication the Ka‘ū Calendar pointed out.

How long it could take to develop isn’t specified, but representatives with the County of Hawaii Planning Department told Big Island Now that the project would have major permitting and zoning benchmarks to accomplish before any such development could take place.

The land in question is currently zoned for agricultural 5-acre lots.

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Jeff Darrow, deputy director for the Planning Department, said it the parcel would have to be rezoned and subdivided into smaller parcels and the developers would have to provide their own water source, as well as secure a special use permit for the proposed lodge, among other requirements, should the project move forward. Those changes would need approval from the County Council and planning commission.

“As of now, we haven’t received anything,” Darrow said of any of the paperwork that would be required to get that process in motion.

The consultant representing the developer didn’t return messages left from Big Island Now.

The developer has secured a grading and grubbing permit, which is referenced on the website. The online tour offer to investors says the group is seeking final zoning approval and shows a photo of a bulldozer with a caption saying, “Grubbing and Grading began on-site in early 2022. Here a D9 dozer pushes brittle volcanic rock.”

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As Dorrow stated, rezoning requests or other permitting requests haven’t hit the planning department’s desk as of this week.

Robyn Matsumoto, in the Department of Public Works Engineering Division, said the active grading permit is site preparation work to balance, cut and fill slopes to create a level pad, and that the permit indicates there will be an access road on the site.

The online tour of the subdivision says that the estates are expected to be approximately 60 1- to 3-acre homesites with two- to four-bedroom estate villas or four- to six-bedroom grand estate homes.

Also located within the community will be a resident-only set of amenities including a pro-shop, community center, racquet club, full-court basketball, an adults only pool, spa treatment rooms, and juice bar, the presentation points out.

“The development team will work with native Hawaiians, local universities, and the farm bureau to incorporate traditional practices common to the region into the Kona Estates project,” it reads. “Developing this beautiful land with respect to its history and culture will be a priority along with maintaining strong relationships with the community. We will adopt sustainable practices as well as incorporate the famous Kona Coast coffee production into the community through a co-op with local university agriculture students and farmers. Wind, solar, and geothermal technologies will be considered and implemented when possible.”

Tom Hasslinger
Tom Hasslinger is a journalist who lives in Kailua-Kona. Prior to joining Big Island Now, he worked as the managing editor for West Hawaii Today and deputy editor for The Garden Island newspaper on Kauai. He's worked for over 15 years as a reporter for the Oahu-based Civil Beat news outlet, as well as in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and Douglas Wyoming.
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