By COLIN M. STEWART
Tribune-Herald Staff Writer
Nearly 9,400 acres of pristine Paauilo ranch land is up for sale at an asking price of $16.8 million.
The Hamakua Coast’s Kukaiau Ranch and its Umikoa Village boast 22 parcels totaling 9,390 acres, 14 houses offering a total of 49 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms, an old-growth ohia forest, scattered groves of koa and eucalyptus trees, open pastures that get between 70 and 80 inches of rain a year, as well as between 800 and 1,000 head of cattle, said Dave Richardson, a co-lister on the property with Hawaii Pacific Brokers.
The propertly is currently owned by David and Josephine De Luz, whose family owns and operates Big Island Toyota and De Luz Chevrolet. David De Luz Jr., who manages the ranch property for his parents, said Tuesday that he was unwilling to discuss the sale out of respect for his parents’ privacy.
“It was founded in 1885, and has a long history,” Richardson said of the ranch. “It was originally part of about 30,000 acres that went from the ocean to about 8,600 feet in elevation. Later, the bottom two-thirds of the property went to the sugar cane companies.”
The property is a working cattle ranch, said Principal Broker Charles Anderson, with access to county water and close to 9 million gallons of catchment tanks and reservoir water storage.
“It’s a great opportunity for someone in the cattle industry to purchase a premier ranching operation in the state of Hawaii. There are not many holdings with this much acreage,” he said. “Because the De Luzes are in their retirement years, they’re not actively ranching the property, so it’s not being utilitzed to its full capacity right now. But that’s not to say the potential isn’t there. Some of the mauka pastures are very productive for feed for cattle.”
While Anderson said the sale price of almost $17 million “is by far the best deal on the island at less than $1,800 an acre,” he admitted that sales of large ranches have been slow during the economic downturn.
“It has been a long process,” he said of selling similar properties. “We probably have more ranch land listed than any other office on the Big Island. It has been a very slow market. But interest has literally just grown in the last month or two — there’s been more interest generated in the last two months than in the last two years, I’d say. It feels like there’s a resurgence, a lot more people looking. But we have not closed a big ranch recently, just a couple hundred acres here and there.”
In the last two weeks, Richardson said, there have been three separate inquiries about Kukaiau Ranch.
“We were out with some people (Monday) on the property,” he said. “And we have someone flying the ranch (Wednesday) morning and then taking a driving tour that afternoon. And we have another buyer coming over from Texas in about 10 days.”
Within the last few years, Anderson said, the De Luz family succeeded in adding a little more than 4,400 acres on the mauka end of the property to a conservation easement, ensuring that it can never be developed. They also set aside about 1,000 acres for mamane forest restoration and a habitat for the endangered palila bird.
For more information on the property, visit http://www.bigisle.com/, or call Anderson at (808) 885-5557.
Email Colin M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.