Map of Proposed Kakaako Developments

Last week I posted the Hawaii Community Development Authority’s updated list of project activity in the Kaka’ako Community Development District (KCDD).

A PDF copy of the list can be downloaded here (Current Kakaako Project Activity).

The following link takes you to an interactive map of the projects:!336

The map below can be saved as a png file:

Map of Proposed Kakaako Developments

Map of Proposed Kakaako Developments

Please read my disclaimer.

The AI-GRS Designation: Review Theory – General Course in Hawaii

The Hawaii Chapter of the Appraisal Institute is hosting the Review Theory – General course in Honolulu in November 2014!  Register here:

Diamond Head Hawaii

AI-GRS Designation

According to the AI website:

The AI-GRS membership designation is held by appraisers who are experienced in general appraisal review.

To become an AI-GRS member of the Appraisal Institute, an individual must:

  • Have good moral character;
  • Meet standards and ethics requirements;
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher;
  • Meet special education requirements;
  • Pass a comprehensive examination; and
  • Possess experience in general appraisal review that meets specific standards.

These review appraisers possess special experience and knowledge that give them the tools to address the issues unique to general and commercial real property review appraisals. AI-GRS Designated members agree to adhere to the Appraisal Institute code of professional ethics and standards of professional appraisal practice, underscoring their commitment to sound and ethical professional practice.

These review appraisers must stay informed of developments pertaining to review of general and commercial real property appraisals, enabling them to provide review appraisals reflecting the latest in professional practice.

The Review Theory – General class is required coursework for the AI-GRS review designation and will be taught in Honolulu by Joseph C. Magdziarz, MAI, SRA (“Joe Magz”) on November 3, 2014 through November 7, 2014.  More information is here:


The following course description is taken from the AI website:

Review Theory—General is the fundamental review course that all reviewers should have in their education background. It is a required course for individuals pursuing the Appraisal Institute General Review Designation.  Participants embark on an in-depth journey of the seven steps that are outlined through the review process, which is at the core of this course. To be a reviewer, an appraiser must learn how to develop opinions of completeness, accuracy, adequacy, relevance, and reasonableness relative to the work under review. These opinions must be refined through tests of reasonableness in order to develop opinions of appropriateness and credibility. By taking this course, participants may gain invaluable confidence on the fundamentals of review.

Upon completion of the course, participants should be able to:

      • Define review.
      • Distinguish between appraisal and review.
      • Evaluate the necessary knowledge and skills required to complete reviews.
      • Distinguish between trivial and material errors.
      • Identify types of review assignments and the process employed in the reviewer’s scope of work.
      • Recognize regulatory compliance issues for review appraisers
      • Identify the steps necessary to effectively communicate the review.

The Review Theory – General course is required for individuals pursuing the Appraisal Institute General Review Designation (AI-GRS – Appraisal Institute General Review Specialist ). For more information regarding the requirements for the review designation, please click here.

If you are currently designated, click here for more information on the alternative path.

If you are currently a candidate for designation, or wish to become a candidate, click here for the specific designation requirements.

Please read my disclaimer.

Current Kakaako Development Projects

The Hawaii Community Development Authority has just posted an updated list of project activity in the Kaka’ako Community Development District (KCDD).

Kakaako - Ward Neighborhood Master Plan Phasing Diagram

Four Kakaako projects totaling 1,541 units are under construction, including Waihonua (A&B), 801 South Street (Downtown Capital LLC), Symphony Honolulu (Oliver McMillan), and the Waiea tower at Ward (Victoria Ward/Howard Hughes).

Nine additional projects totalling 2,587 units have also been approved.

A PDF copy of the list can be downloaded here (Current Kakaako Project Activity).   Project information is updated at this link:

Please read my disclaimer.

Will Countertop Finishes in Hawaii’s Luxury Homes Evolve?

Luxury homes in Hawaii have featured stone counter tops for more than two decades.

When I appraise a high end residence, I often wonder when the trend will morph into something different.

I stumbled on an article that discusses some alternative finishes that are being introduced in Europe–will any catch on in Hawaii? (I haven’t seen any yet)

The nanotech material below looks interesting to me.


Italian “Nanotech” Material

Bishop Square Introduces Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Real estate appraisers are seeing more and more “green improvements” to commercial buildings.  Office properties that make such improvements are hoping to attract tenants who are willing to pay a premium for perceived sustainability and greater overall efficiency.

The Bishop Square parking garage in downtown Honolulu now hosts two electric vehicle charging stations on the tenth floor.  The stalls are covered, and the charging rates are $2.00 per hour for the first two hours, and $4.00 per hour thereafter.

Bishop Square Electric Vehicle Chargers

Bishop Square Electric Vehicle Chargers

The chargers are provided by SemaCharge, which also has stations at Bishop Place (1132 Bishop St), Waterfront Plaza (500 Ala Moana Blvd), the Pan Am Building (1600 Kapiolani Blvd), and the Honolulu Club (932 Ward Street).

Big Island real estate market rebounding

Big Island Real Estate

Stephens Media Hawaii

The real estate market is growing on the Big Island.

“Real estate rebounded from being at the bottom of the market in the fourth quarter of 2010. The market took off in 2012 and continued into 2013. We expect it to increase through 2014,” Glenn Takase, broker for Day-Lum Properties, said.

Kehau Costa, executive officer for Hawaii Island Realtors, said the market, in general, is “on an uptick.”

“Inventory remains low, meaning when something goes on the market it’s selling really quickly,” she said. “So, it’s a good time to sell your home and 2014 is projected to be even better than 2013.”

Nancy Cabral, president of Day-Lum Rentals &Management Inc., said part of the growth can be attributed to more investors looking to capitalize on what she considers a “lower-risk investment.”

“It’s an investment that doesn’t carry as high of a risk as the stock market,” she said. “With the stock market, you could lose all of it. With real estate, prices may go down, but it’s still worth something.”

Cabral and Takase said they’re seeing a lot of foreign investors on the island, mainly from China, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

According to information provided by the Hawaii Information Service, the number of residential sales in South Hilo increased by more than 27 percent from 2012 to 2013, while vacant land sales increased by more than 71 percent during that same period.

Puna’s residential sales increased by 18.55 percent and vacant land sales are up 53.55 percent from 2012.

Hamakua residential sales saw a 16.28 percent increase in 2013 from the previous year, with 43 residential sales in 2012 to 50 in 2013. There were 18 vacant land sales in 2013, down one from last year.

Ka‘u’s vacant land sales increased 15.94 percent from 2012 to 2013, from 138 to 160. Residential sales remained about the same, 110 from 109.

Diana Haraguchi, vice president of administration for HIS, said licensed real estate brokers or agents signed up for HIS services provide the data used in the aforementioned statistics.

Data do not reflect the total number of real estate inventory sales on the Big Island.

Statistics were released Jan. 2.

Email Megan Moseley at

– See more at:

Coco Palms – Is the market hot enough to finally allow for feasible redevelopment?

A nice article from today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser by Timothy Hurley.

After major market downturns, the first real estate projects to be developed are usually the “low hanging fruit”.  After several ups and downs since Hurricane Iniki in 1992, the Coco Palms remains in ruins.  It will be very interesting to see if the hotel that is known to older generations for its Elvis Presley appeal (and recently introduced to younger folks via South Park) can make it over the hump in this up-cycle.



Return to splendor

Past failures have not deterred the latest push to resurrect the Coco Palms Resort

Dec 15, 2013

Twenty-one years after it walloped Kauai, Hurricane Iniki still teases and torments this island.

The legendary Coco Palms Resort — battered by 145 mph winds that Sept. 11, 1992, day — stands today as it did then, an eerie reminder of the devastation the storm inflicted on Kauai.

It sits on busy Kuhio Highway in Wailua while a new generation of tourists drives by in their rental cars, likely wondering what that old derelict is and unaware of its storied history.

Surprisingly, the dream to return this icon of Hawaii tourism to its former glory is still alive: The latest proposal to rebuild the dilapidated hotel was unveiled during the summer by a pair of Oahu real estate investors.

While more than a few residents and government officials are skeptical of the plans, having been disappointed repeatedly in the past, Bob Jasper, the hotel’s longtime site manager, remains optimistic.

“It would be just so great to see it come back,” said Jasper, who has been leading daily tours of the hotel and its disheveled grounds for 18 years.

Eleven tourists showed up for one of Jasper’s two-hour tours on a recent sunny day, gathering at a locked fence with a sign that warns trespassers they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Among them was 65-year-old Meg Curnutt of Tulalip, Wash., who eagerly recalled her Coco Palms stay in the mid-1970s as part of an industry tour of travel agents.

“It was spectacular,” she said. “I’ll never forget the torch lighting.”

Opened on Jan. 25, 1953, the Coco Palms Resort had only 24 rooms and a handful of employees. While Honolulu hotel executive Lyle Guslander discovered the dinky lodge and negotiated its $150,000 purchase, it was his eventual wife, Grace Buscher Guslander, who is credited for the vision that transformed the hotel into a resort that would influence the Hawaii tourism industry for years to come.

With its 800-tree coconut palm grove and emerald lagoon, the Coco Palms Resort eventually swelled to more than 400 rooms, suites and thatch bungalows and became the ultimate in Polynesian elegance, the playground of celebrities including Bing Crosby, Mitzi Gaynor, Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Gene Autry and Elvis Presley.

South Pacific kitsch and faux Hawaiian embellishments were the core of a Polynesian motif that charmed two generations of hotel guests.

Each arriving visitor was greeted with the blast of a conch shell. The centerpiece of guest bathrooms was a giant clamshell “sink” imported from the South Pacific. The chatter of monkeys and exotic birds in a small zoo behind the coconut grove gave the place a junglelike ambience.

The Coco Palms resort was immortalized in a dozen or so films, including the 1961 Elvis Presley movie “Blue Hawaii.” Most of the movie’s final 20 minutes were shot on and near the hotel grounds, including the famous wedding scene, which was filmed at the lagoon.

Weddings were a big deal. The resort hosted 500 nuptials a year in its heyday — many of them were conducted in “Blue Hawaii” fashion at the lagoon or in the resort’s wedding chapel, which was donated by MGM Studios after Rita Hayworth’s 1953 film “Miss Sadie Thompson.”

More recently, the Coco Palms appeared in a scene of the 2011 film “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and was animated in a 2012 episode of “South Park” in which Kenny encounters the ghost of Elvis Presley.

Hollywood aside, the hotel might be best known for its nightly torch-lighting ritual known as the Call to Feast. The dramatic ceremony — one of numerous Hawaiian legends dreamed up by Grace Guslander — saw muscular men sweep across the resort, twirling torches as they set the night aglow and invited guests to dine at one of the hotel’s seven restaurants.

The ceremony occurred each evening at 7:30 for 40 years and was featured in “Blue Hawaii” and copied by many other Hawaii hotels.

Another fabricated ancient Hawaiian custom saw prominent guests planting coconut trees in the grove during solemn “akua” replenishment ceremonies. Some of the famous planters included the prince and princess of Japan, the Von Trapp Family Singers and legendary Hawaii waterman Duke Kahanamoku.

Their trees and others throughout the grounds were marked with plaques. Tourists were also led to believe the Coco Palms lagoon was once the royal fishpond of Kauai’s rulers.

Lyle Guslander’s company sold the resort to Amfac Inc. in 1969, but he and Grace continued to run the property. After Lyle died at age 84, the resort was sold to a Chinese company known as Park Lane Hotels in 1985, the year Grace retired. She died in 2000.

Seven years after Hurricane Iniki slammed into Kauai, the Coco Palms was shuttered and then languished for years while Park Lane battled its insurance company over the value of the storm loss.

The resort never reopened, but several developers brought forth plans to rebuild over the years only to fail for a variety of reasons. In 2005, a group calling itself Coco Palms Ventures LLC acquired the hotel with plans to sell million-dollar-plus condos, but the economy soured before that project got off the ground.

The latest proposal comes from Oahu investment partners Tyler Greene and Chad Waters, who in August entered into an agreement to buy the hotel under the name Coco Palms Hui LLC.

Greene and Waters declined an interview, but they previously had announced plans to break ground early next year in hopes of finishing in 12 to 18 months and reopening the resort in late 2015 or early 2016.

They also announced their selection of an architect and a construction contractor and are negotiating with Starwood and Hyatt to determine the hotel’s operator. They say they have spent $500,000 on development plans, including an artist’s rendering showing a re-energized Coco Palms with at least 300 rooms.

But their efforts might be for naught if the Kauai County Council follows through on a proposal to repeal the remaining building ordinance passed in the wake of Hurricane Iniki.

The ordinance was designed to help expedite reconstruction of structures crippled by the storm by allowing developers to build in the same “pre-Iniki” footprint, avoiding additional regulatory hoops and associated expenses.

The repeal proposal was postponed by a Council subcommittee last month, but not before several members offered conditional support for the effort.

Meanwhile, an alternative plan to turn the property into a cultural and historical attraction still remains viable, said Jennifer Luck, Kauai island director of the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust.

The state Legislature awarded $270,000 to help the trust determine if acquisition of the property is feasible and, if so, how the property can best be protected for public benefit. The state hasn’t released the funds yet, however.

“We believe if given the opportunity, the community will create an inspired vision that will honor the important role in Kauai’s and Hawaii’s history of the site,” Luck said in a statement.

The historic significance of Coco Palms Resort extends beyond the hotel, Luck noted.

In the mid-1800s, the land was home to Kauai’s last reigning monarch, Queen Deborah Kapule. The land also holds significant archaeological sites.

One proposal for the property is to create a Hawaiian cultural center for “cultural enrichment, historic preservation, land conservation and spiritual nourishment,” according to the website of the Friends of Coco Palms, a group working with the trust.

How the hotel fits into that vision is uncertain pending the feasibility study. In the meantime, the hotel continues to wither under the relentless march of time and as the occasional target of vandals.

And Bob Jasper continues to bring the old resort to life, leading tourists through its dank and dark hallways, around cobwebs and swarms of mosquitoes.

Throughout the grounds, remnants of the original landscaping competes with kiawe and cane grass. The “world’s largest fiberglass conch shell” still hangs above a lagoon teeming with schools of tilapia. A cardboard cutout of Elvis Presley stands in Cottage No. 56, the one where the King always stayed.

“People miss the Coco Palms,” Jasper said after the tour. “It has a mystique. People tell me all the time: The only reason they came to Kauai is for the Coco Palms.

“And it sure would be awesome to see it come back.”

Real Property Taxes – Honolulu, Oahu – Tax Calendar

Honolulu Real Property Tax

We have arrived in November, an extremely busy time for the City and County of Honolulu Real Property Assessment Division.  October 1 is the “date of valuation” for the 2013-2014 tax year, and the County assessors are now busy preparing property values that will be mailed out to taxpayers on December 15…just in time for Christmas!

Taxpayers and property owners on Oahu should be aware of the following real property taxation dates:

September 1 Deadline for filing dedication petitions (Forms available)
September 30 Deadline for filing exemption claims (Forms available)
September 30 Deadline for filing tax credit applications (Treasury Division)
October 1 Date of Valuation
October 31 Deadline for dedication approval/disapproval
November 1 Deadline for reporting changes affecting exemptions (Form available)
December 15 Assessment notices mailed
January 15 Deadline for filing appeals (Forms available)
February 1 Certified assessment roll sent to City Council
June 15 Tax rates set by City Council
June 30 End of tax year
July 1 Beginning of tax year
July 20 First-half year bills mailed
August 20 First-half year payments due
January 20 Second-half year bills mailed
February 20 Second-half year payments due

For property owners considering an appeal of their assessments, the two most important dates are December 15 and January 15.  If you are going to appeal, you have to do it in that 30-day window.

If you decide you want to appeal your assessment, the chart above has links to the forms you’ll need.  If you’re having trouble, send me an email and I’ll get you pointed in the right direction.

General information about your Oahu property, including its assessed value and other tax data can be found at this website:

Questions or comments?  Please leave them in the comment box below, I would be happy to clarify and/or expand.

Aloha, Chris

Please read my disclaimer.


In property taxation disputes, the legal process by which an owner may challenge either an ad valorem taxation assessment or a special assessment.

1. The official valuation of property for ad valorem taxation.
2. A single charge levied against a parcel of real estate to defray the cost of a public improvement that presumably will benefit only the properties it serves, e.g., assessment for the installation of sidewalks, curbs, or sewer and water lines. 
3. A determination of the amount paid by or to the owners of real estate to defray the cost of a public improvement that is presumed to benefit the properties it serves in an amount at least equal to the cost of the improvement, e.g., assessment of benefits and/or damages for public sewer or water lines. 

assessment date (date of valuation)
The status date for tax purposes. Appraised values reflect the status of the property and any partially completed construction as of this date

1. The head of an assessment agency; sometimes used collectively to refer to all administrators of the assessment function. (IAAO)
2. One who discovers, lists, and values real property for ad valorem taxation.

property tax

Any tax that is imposed on persons on account of their ownership or possession of property and is measured by the number of units, the value, or some presumptive evidence of number of units or value, of such property. Note: This tax is generally, but not necessarily, intended to be a direct, proportional ad valorem tax.

tax exemption

Total exemption or freedom from tax; granted to educational, charitable, religious, and other nonprofit organizations. Partial exemptions from ad valorem tax are granted to homesteads in some states.

tax rate
The factor used to calculate the total tax for a property, typically expressed in dollars per $100 or $1,000 (mills) of assessed value. The tax rate can be calculated by dividing the total amount of the taxes for a community by the total assessed value of all properties in the community.

Source for all definitions: Appraisal Institute, The Dictionary of Real Estate Appraisal, 5th ed. (Chicago: Appraisal Institute, 2010).