Developer plans purchase of Waiakea Villas


By HUNTER BISHOP

Tribune-Herald Staff Writer

Hawaii real estate developer Peter Savio wants to spend $25 million to buy the Waiakea Villas complex in Hilo and create a new “Pagoda-style” hotel on the property.

Savio said Friday he is finalizing a deal to purchase the 275-unit residential and commercial property from investors, which could take a couple of months to complete.

Savio said about 200 of the 251 residential units are available now and others are privately owned condominiums. “The goal would be to buy (the condos) up over time,” he said. “It’s very common on Oahu.” The remainder are commercial properties.

Savio, born in Hilo, purchased the venerable Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu two years ago and would position the proposed Hilo hotel as a similar style of local, family-based operation.

“For business travel, weddings, when people have guests — they will stay at the Pagoda,” he said, and another hotel wouldn’t necessarily attract more tourists to Hilo where there are no sandy beaches or surfing. “Hilo’s just a different attraction. It’s old Hawaii.”

About 30 Waiakea Villas residential units that were destroyed by fire in 2002 would also be rebuilt and Savio plans to add more new units, which would be marketed to University of Hawaii at Hilo students and as long-term rentals.

Savio is looking to invest at least $2 million to the commercial side of the complex “just to freshen it up.” Beyond that, he’s not sure yet how much he’ll need to invest in property upgrades.

“It will be considerable,” he said. “No numbers yet; we’re working on it.”

Currently Miyo’s Restaurant, Hale Inu Sports Bar and several other tenants are located in the commercial complex among a number of vacant spaces on the Waiakea waterfront.

The sellers are Owens Financial Group and Bridge Capital. Bridge acquired the residential property through foreclosure when former owner Simon Bebb defaulted on a loan in 2009. Last year, Owens foreclosed on the commercial property’s previous co-owners, Vernon and Noenoe Lindsey of Maui, after the Lindseys defaulted on a $2 million loan.

“Deals have fallen through,” Savio said.

A call to the Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Owens Financial Group for confirmation of the proposed sale was not returned. Singapore-based Bridge Capital also could not be reached for comment.

Katt Sears, site manager for the Waiakea Villas condo owners association, said Friday that she hadn’t heard of the proposed sale but that it’s good news and that she’s looking forward to new investment in the property.

“That’s exactly what we need. It’s good that he’s a local guy,” Sears said.

Earlier reports last week that Savio was proposing to buy the Waiakea Lagoon View Apartments, a different residential apartment complex located across Waiakea Pond from Waiakea Villas, were incorrect, he said.

Savio said he’s been trying to acquire the Waiakea Villas property for several years. He hopes to finalize the deal and begin work on the project early in 2013.

Savio is also negotiating for a site for another Pagoda-branded hotel to be located near the new University of Hawaii at West Oahu campus in Kapolei.

Email Hunter Bishop at hbishop@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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