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Friday, November 30, 2012

No Slowdown for Visitor Industry in October 2012

The Hawaii Tourism Authority released a report stating that visitor arrivals to Hawaii increased by 8.6 percent and visitor spending increased by 12.7 percent in October 2012 as compared to the same month a year ago.  This equates to 640,666 visitors and $1.1 billion in spending which quite frankly surprised tourism experts due to the fact that October is traditionally a slow tourism month for the islands.  Sales and Marketing Director for the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Waikiki, Alvin Wong, commented, “We didn’t see any resemblance of a shoulder season in October.  The momentum from summer has continued into fall and beyond. We’re looking at mostly 90 percent occupancies into the first quarter of next year.”
President and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Mike McCartney, stated, “As tourism continues to stimulate Hawaii’s economy, the HTA is optimistic that this positive momentum will continue through the rest of the year and will lead us to exceed our aggressive 2012 targets of 7.89 million total visitor arrivals and $13.9 billion in total expenditures.  Hawaii has become the fourth-largest port of entry in the U.S., after New York, Miami and Los Angeles. We’ve got the fastest growth rate at 24 percent.”
Still Mike McCartney noted that more work could be done to improve tourism for the neighbor islands, as the majority of the visitors have been coming to Oahu and Waikiki.  McCartney added, “Distribution remains a major priority for the HTA, and together with our marketing contractors and industry partners, we continue to work to drive travel to the neighbor islands.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-30-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Matson Shipping Company to Raise Rates in 2013

Matson Inc., the state’s largest ocean cargo transportation firm, has announced that the cost to ship goods to and from Hawaii will rise starting on January 1, 2013. Westbound containers would cost an additional $175 while eastbound containers would cost an additional $85. In addition, a separate terminal handing fee will be added at $50 per westbound container and $25 per eastbound container. All in all, these two fees would mean that shipping costs would increase by approximately 5.6 percent.
According to Matson, the rate increases are needed to offset higher operating costs. Senior Vice President of Ocean Services, Dave Hoppes, stated, “Matson continues to diligently look for ways to operate the most efficient, cost effective service possible, without undercutting our standards of quality. Matson continues to absorb a substantial amount of the expenses associated with terminal operations, the majority of which are driven by factors that are outside of our control.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-29-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Hawaii has Highest Average Home Price in Nation

According to a study done by Coldwell Banker Real Estate, Hawaii has the highest average home price in the United States. The study looked at what the average listing price was for a four-bedroom, two bathroom home was across the nation and found that in number was $742,551 in Hawaii. This was significantly higher then second most expensive state, Massachusetts, which had an average price of $489,063. California came in third with an average price of $431,625. The national average for a 4B/2BA home was $292,151 and the most affordable state was Nebraska at $145,360.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-29-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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University of Hawaii Agrees to Sells Land Next to West Oahu Campus

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents has approved the sale of a 39-acre parcel of land next to the West Oahu Campus to the Roman Catholic Church for $12 million. However, the Catholic Church has also agreed to spend up to an additional $20 million to build infrastructure including but not limited to new roads, sewers, and electrical and water lines. According to university officials, the school would use the money earned to pay for the startup and operating costs of the UH-West Oahu campus as well as pay for some of the construction costs.
The Roman Catholic Church plans to build a church and a private school, tentatively called Maryknoll West, on the site. This new K-12 school will eventually serve more then 1,400 students and will become the largest Catholic school in the state. The sale has not be finalized, but University administrators are confident that now the Board of Regents have given their approval, things will move forward quickly.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-29-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Non-Smoking Ban at Oahu Beaches Gains City Council Support

Last month, City Councilman Stanley Chang had proposed Bill 72, which sought to ban smoking at Kapiolani Park and 4 other of the most popular beach parks on the island of Oahu.  In a 4 to 1 vote, the Safety, Economic Development and Government Affairs Committee voted moved to advance Bill 72 and will hold a public hearing on December 5th.  Chang was delighted about the City Council Committees’ support and stated, ”Cigarette butt litter is by far the No. 1 source of litter on our streets, our beaches, in our parks, our public places.”  Chang added that approving the ban “would send a strong signal and help enhance Hawaii’s appeal as a tourist destination.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-28-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Hawaiian Airline Begins Service to Brisbane, Australia

Hawaiian Airlines has just launched its first nonstop flight to Brisbane, Australia, and will be offering this route three times per week.  Brisbane is Australia’s third largest city with a population of 2 million people.  According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, this new service will add 41,148 new air seats to the Hawaii market per year and will provide $79 million in visitor spending and $8.6 million in tax revenue for the state.  Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, Brain Schatz, stated, “This is tremendous news for our Asia-Pacific strategy.  It’s a bold step on the part of Hawaiian Airlines, and it demonstrates their confidence in the potential that Australia holds for the Hawaii tourism market.”
The Hawaii Tourism Authority predicts that in 2012 a total of 240,000 Australian visitors would have come to Hawaii.  Deputy consul general and consul for the Australian Consulate-General, John Leonardi, stated, ”The friendliness, weather and the climate reminds them a lot of some of the tropical parts of Australia.  I’m sure being part of the United States and being a relatively safe destination is also part of (why they come to Hawaii). Obviously, the Hawaiian brand is well known throughout the world and, obviously, in Australia.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-28-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

North Shore Real Estate – Turtle Bay Resorts Hopes to Start New Construction in 2014

Turtle Bay Resorts has announced that they have finished filing a supplemental environmental impact statement with the city and hopes that they will now receive approval to start several new construction projects in 2014.  The plan is to add two new hotels with a total of 625 rooms and an additional 750 new residences to the 880-acre property on the North Shore of Oahu.  The project would cost approximately $770 million and take about 10 years to complete.  Resort officials stated that their environmental study produced no real surprises and felt confident that everything would eventually be approved by the city.
However, many North Shore residents are concerned that this expansion would significantly increase traffic and reduce the “country feel” of the North Shore.  The public will have several weeks to review the documents and make comments.  The owner of the Turtle Bay Resort would then have to respond to those comments and include those responses in his final supplemental Environmental Impact Survey for the city’s review.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-27-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Honolulu Rail Project – $5 Million Budgeted for Art Work

According to a report released by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), a total of about $5 million has been budgeted to purchase art work for the Honolulu Rail Project’s 21 train stations.  The Transit Arts Program administrator, Lisa Yoshihara, stated that the city, “wants the art to reflect a ‘sense of place’ that recognizes Hawaii’s multicultural landscape and reflects the community, or ahupuaa in which the station resides.”  Yoshihara added, “We are currently developing a plan to engage the community and artists in this exciting opportunity to integrate art into our stations.  We plan to unveil the program next year with a call for artists, which will include a workshop on how to apply. We will continue to keep the community informed as we move through the process.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-26-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Big Island Real Estate – Lava From Kilauea Attracts Locals and Visitors

Visitors and residents of the Big Island of Hawaii were treated to a natural spectacle as lava from one of Kilauea Volcano’s vents spilled into the ocean on the eastern boundary of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  This has lead to an uptick in visitor arrivals and tour groups interested in seeing this amazing show and relatively rare event.  Tour captain for Lava Ocean Adventures and Lava Ocean Tours Inc., Shane Turpin, stated, “It’s always steady around here.  It’s just more people are interested in seeing the active flow where it’s entering the ocean.  When it does touch the ocean, we run a more specialized just-lava-watching tour.  Being able to see it on land is one thing; when it’s touching the ocean, it’s quite an exciting time.  I’ve  been following this volcano my whole life, and I’ve stopped trying to predict it.  I just sit here and enjoy it when it’s happening.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-26-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Matson Navigation Company Plans to Buy Two More Ships

Matson Navigation Company has announced that it would like to purchase two additional ships for its fleet in the next couple of years, at an estimated cost of $400 million total.  Matson, which based out of Honolulu, is Hawaii’s largest ocean cargo transportation firm and controls approximately 66 of the state’s market share.  The last time Matson purchased any new vessels was over 10 years ago.  Kevin Sterling, a stock analyst with BB&T Capital Markets, believes it is a smart move by Matson, as newer ships are larger, quicker and most importantly more fuel efficient.  Sterling stated, “It makes sense to keep your fleet young.  It gives them a lot of flexibility (to serve existing or new markets).”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-25-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Electrical Rates on Oahu Lowest in Months

According to a report released by the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), electrical rates for the island of Oahu in November were the lowest that they have been since Februray 2012.  Residential consumers spent 31.9 cents per kilowatt-hour on Oahu, a decrease from the 33.6 cents per kilowatt-hour in October.  Experts attribute this reduction due to lower fuel oil prices which HECO uses to power their generators.
In comparison, Maui customers spent 39.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.  Big Island of Hawaii residents spent 39.0 cents per kilowatt-hour, while Kauai resident spent the most across the state at 43.9 cents per kilowatt-hour.  The state of Hawaii has the highest electric rate in the country with an average of 37.04 cents per kilowatt-hour.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the national average is 12.17 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-23-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sheraton Spends $230 Million to Renovate Four Hawaii Properties

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, has just finished renovating four properties in Hawaii to the tune of $230 million.  The Sheraton Waikiki received the bulk of that money with $188 million spent completely renewing the property.  The Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa got a $6.5 million face lift, while the Sheraton Kauai Resort for a $16 million upgrade.  The Sheraton Kona Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii finished a $20 million renovation.  Sheraton executives are confident that the money spent will be worth it with Hawaii’s improving tourism economy.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-22-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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HPU Hopes to Manage and Redevelop Aloha Tower Marketplace

Hawaii Pacific University has prepared a proposal to the Aloha Tower Development Corp. to manage and redevelop the Aloha Tower Marketplace.  Under their plan, the university would spend approximately $32 million to completely overhaul the waterfront marketplace.  A dormitory for 320 students would be built on site, as well as a new sports and entertainment complex.  New retailers and restaurants would also be added under HPU’s management as well as additional parking stalls.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-22-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Forest City Enterprises and Lend Lease Willing to Build 400 Foot Towers Instead of 650 Foot Tower

The Hawaii Community Development Authority had originally hoped to construct a 650 foot tower in Kakaako at 690 Pohukaina Street and had solicited bids by both Forest City Enterprises and Lend Lease to come up with designs.  The concept of creating extra tall mega towers was championed by Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, who felt that it would benefit the city’s urban design and allow developers to deliver affordable housing to Hawaii’s population.  However, the thought of building a tower 250 taller then the current tallest building has generated a lot of public outcry.  As a result, both Forest City Enterprise and Lend Lease have public stated that they would be willing to build towers at 400 feet, is that is decided by the Hawaii Community Development Authority.
Forest City commented that they have three proposals submitted and have no preference on which one is selected.  The first would be to build one 650 foot tower.  The second would be to create a 560 foot tower and a 400 foot tower.  The third plan would be to build two towers at 400 feet each.  Lend Lease has proposed building two towers, with one being 400 feet tall and the second, if approval is given, being 650 feet tall.  However, they could easily reduce the height if the second tower to 400 feet.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-21-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Honolulu Rail Project – $1.55 Billion in Federal Funding

Hawaii’s congressional delegation has announced that they have secured $1.55 billion in federal funding for the Honolulu Rail Project.  The final commitment will take place with the signing of a Full Funding Grant Agreement, which should occur by the end of the year.  Once signed the city would received $200 million in federal funding for their 2012 budget and additional $230 to $250 million per year over the next five fiscal years.  United States Senator Daniel Inouye stated, ”This is an important step toward providing federal funding for the Hono lulu rail transit project.  By providing a new option for Oahu commuters to avoid traffic congestion, rail will save families time and money and will reduce pollution in the air we breathe. I look forward to the rail project’s completion.”
Rail opponents still warn that that the project still faces lawsuits in state and federal court and hope for continued injections preventing construction work from proceeding.  However, Executive Director for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, Daniel Grabauskas, believes that these legal cases would not stop the rail project.  Grabauskas stated, ”No roadblocks have been put in our place as a result of the court cases.  Perhaps a detour and a little extra work we need to do, but no roadblock. That’s ultimately what the FTA was able to determine. Therefore, they were able to say, ‘We’ve already looked at your cost and schedule base line, and it’s in very good shape.’”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-20-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Oahu Top Island and Sun Destination in World

According to a report released by Hospitality Advisors LLC, Oahu is the number one island and sun destination in the World in terms of hotel occupancy rates during the first three quarters of 2012.  The study compared island and sun destinations globally, and Oahu clearly held the lead with 85.6 percent occupant through September.  Puerto Rico was second with74.5 percent occupancy, followed by the island of Maui with 73.3 percent.  Rounding out the top five was Phuket with 71.0 percent occupancy and Bali with 70.5 percent occupancy.  Two other Hawaiian Islands made the top 10 with Kauai at number six and the Big Island of Hawaii in tenth place.  President and CEO for Hospitality Advisors, Joseph Toy, stated, ”Hawaii’s strong recovery, and in particular the record pace in hotel revenue, have helped strengthen each island’s performance among,  the island and sun destinations.”
Vice president of Hilton Hawaii, Jerry Gibson, added, ”The people of Oahu should be very proud to be at the top of this list of world-class destinations.  For Oahu, as well as Maui and Kauai, to be among the likes of Bali, Phuket and Puerto Rico is a credit to the hotels and their marketing partners including Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, and all the island visitors bureaus.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-20-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Honolulu Rail Project – Concern Rises About Finmeccania’s Credit Rating

Italian Company Finmeccanica is the parent company of the two rail transportation firms that make up Ansaldo Honolulu.  Ansaldo is the company that had been given a $1.4 billion contract to build the train cars for the Honolulu Rail Project and maintain the rail system. Recently, it was announced that Finmeccanica had been given a BBB- credit rating by Fitch Ratings, which is just one step above junk-bond status.  Finmeccanica has a large amount of debt and has been talking about significant restructuring for over a year.
Members of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) have expressed their concerns and wanted some assurances from Finmeccanica that things would progress as planned and that Finmeccanica would not sell Ansaldo to a third party.  Finmeccanica assured the city that their restructuring does not currently include Ansaldo.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-19-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Maui County Hopes to Burn Garbage for Power

Maui County officials are hoping to find a company to build a waste-to-energy facility on the island to burn garbage to produce power for the Maui Electric Company.  Approximately 450 tons of garbage are dumped each day at the Central Maui Landfill.  The hope would be to burn this garbage and generate enough power to run a 15 megawatt power plant.  Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa added, ”We’re taking something we’re currently paying to handle, which is our trash, and we’re going to be using that to create electric power, thereby reducing our dependency on foreign petroleum.  We’re trying to reduce our electricity costs and take care of the waste stream.  No one really wants to have a new landfill built in their backyard. And the ability for us to minimize landfill space, and possibly mine some of the old landfill material, will allow us to be able to use our current landfill for a much longer period.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-18-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Last Resort T.V. Show Canceled

The ABC Network has announced that they will be canceling their Last Resort television show after just one season. The television drama, which was filed in Hawaii, had remained very popular with critics, but did not create a strong viewership following. After its initial premier episode which had 9 million viewers, numbers fell steadily with it’s most recent episode only bringing in 5.68 million viewers. According to film economists, a network like ABC would spend between $2 to $2.5 million per episode, with approximately two-thirds of that money staying in the local economy.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-17-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Alaska Airlines to Offer Service Between San Diego and Kauai

Alaska Airlines has announced that they will be expanding their service routes to the neighbor islands, and will be beginning a daily service between San Diego and Kauai in 2013. Currently, the airlines offers nonstop service to Kauai from Oakland, California; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and San Jose, California. Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. stated, “Our economy is seeing more signs of improvement, and this move by Alaska indicates confidence in Kauai as a visitor destination.”
According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, this new route to San Diego would generate $41 million in visitor spending and $4.5 million in tax revenue for the state. Chief Executive Officer for the HTA, Mike McCartney, stated, “Alaska Airlines has been a great partner in expanding air service to all four of the major Hawaiian Islands from the U.S. mainland.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-17-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Hawaii Unemployment Rate Falls to 5.5 Percent in October 2012

According to a report released by the state’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Hawaii’s unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent in October 2012. This has been Hawaii’s lowest rate since November 2008 when unemployment was at 5.3 percent. Governor Neil Abercrombie commented, “Hawaii’s improved unemployment rate is another welcome sign that our economy is continuing to recover. To continue this positive momentum, we remain committed to our proven plan of fiscal prudence and investing in state infrastructure and facilities that will continue to stimulate the economy and create employment opportunities for local residents.”
Honolulu County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 5 percent. Maui County had a 6 percent unemployment rate while Kauai County had a 6.5 percent unemployment rate. Hawaii County (Big Island of Hawaii) had the highest rate at 7.5 percent. Nationally, the unemployment rate for October was 7.9 percent.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-16-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Honolulu Rail Project – City Budgeting $86 Million to Buy Properties

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has announced that approximately $86 million has been budgeted in 2013 to purchase a total of 63 properties along the 20-mile route of the Honolulu Rail Project. According to the released plans, eight of the properties will be purchased out right, while the other 55 cases, only part of the property will be obtained by the city. HART has also budgeted in an addition $1 million to help relocate a total of 14 businesses that will be effected by the rail project. The real estate acquisition manager for HART, Jerry Iwata, stated, “HART still needs to finish the archaeological work in the city center area in order to complete the design work, which will determine the exact area needed for property acquisitions and which businesses will be affected. It is also premature to release the names of potentially affected parties when the process of notifying property owners has yet to begin.”
The city estimates that it will spend a total of $202 million purchasing land along the route, and may have to spend some additional funds helping homeowners and businesses relocate.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-16-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
Posted by Jeff Uyemura-Reyes, Broker-in-Charge, Realtor®
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Honolulu Rail Project – Another Skull Fragment Found in Rail’s Path

Another human skull fragment was found during the archaeological survey for the Honolulu Rail Project, making it the sixth set of remains found at five different sites.  The body was that of a young adult and was found beneath a parking lot near Ward Avenue.  The State Historic Preservation Division is now responsible for deciding how the remains will be handled.  Several Native Hawaiian groups have asked the city to leave the remains in place and to change the design of the rail line to avoid them.  According to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, a total of 350 trenches have been dug as part of the archaeological survey required by the state before construction for the Honolulu Rail Project can resume.  HART estimates that they have another 35 trenches to dig and hopes to have the archaeological survey completed by the end of the year.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-15-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Changes in Federal Calculations Show 17.4 Percent of Hawaii Population in Poverty

According to a new estimate released by the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 17.4 percent of Hawaii’s residents live in poverty.  This is significantly higher then the 12.5 percent previously estimated and is due to new federal calculations that take into considerations Hawaii high cost of living.  This new calculation, called the “supplemental poverty measure,” is expected to more accurately show which residents and states have financial need and could greatly effect the amount of federal and state government subsidies given.  This new consideration means that 64,000 additional people in Hawaii would be considered to live in poverty, or approximately 229,000 Hawaii Residents in total.  Per the Census Bureau, the national average poverty rate is 15.8 percent.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-15-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Big Island Real Estate – Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Company Goes Retail


The ML Macadamia Orchards LP had previously sold all of their macadamia nuts in bulk to the Hershey Chocolate Company’s Mauna Loa division.  However, after Hershey decided to go in a different direction, the world’s largest grower of macadamia nuts renamed themselves the Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Company and has decided to enter the retail market for themselves.  The Hilo based company had approximated 5,070 acres of orchards on the Big Island of Hawaii and produced 21.8 million pounds of nut last year.  Company president Dennis Simonis stated, “Macadamias are best known as ingredients in indulgent products such as candy and desserts.  Royal Hawaiian believes marketing macadamias as part of a healthy diet to health-conscious consumers will drive incremental nut category sales and profits for retailers.” The nuts are currently available on the Royal Hawaiian website, and will be available in retail stores throughout Hawaii and on the mainland United States by the end if the year.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-14-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Kurt Matsumoto is New Chief Operating Officer of Lanai Resorts LLC


In June 2012, billionaire Larry Ellison purchased 98% of the land on the island of Lanai from the Castle & Cooke Foundation.  Ellison, the CEO for software giant Oracle Corp., has just announced that he will be hiring Lanai native Kurt Matsumoto to be his new Chief Operating Officer for Lanai Resort LLC.  As COO, Matsumoto would manage all of Ellison’s Lanai holdings which would include The Lodge at Koele, the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay, two golf courses, several luxury home development, utilities and a plan to establish the island as a grower and exporter of organic produce.
Matsumoto was born on Lanai and was once the vice president of resorts and administration on the island for Castle & Cooke.  He was also the general manager for  Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Matsumoto stated, “I never imagined I’d get an opportunity like this.  This job is really important to me. Lanai is my home.  My feeling is (that Ellison) really has the right intent: to take the strengths of the island and use it to an advantage, not just for himself, but for the community, too. This is a really good second chance for Lanai.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-14-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Maui Real Estate – Lahaina Gateway Purchased by TNP Strategic Retail Trust


The Lahaina Gateway is a 137,000 sq ft shopping center that was originally developed by Bilarjo LLC in 2008 for a total of $47 million. Bilarjo struggled during the economic recession and filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Bilarjo lost the property in 2011 to foreclosure. TNP Strategic Retail Trust has just announced that they have purchased the shopping center for $32 million. TNP stated that approximately 81 percent of their units are currently leased to tenants and hopes to fill the remaining 19 percent shortly.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-13-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Kauai Real Estate – Hanalei Plantation Resort Project Update


Pierre Omidyar, the founder eBay, currently owns a large property on the northeast side of Hanalei Bay on the island Kauai. Omidyar and his development team, Ohana Real Estate Investors, are hoping to convert 63.6 acres of the property into a new development called Hanalei Plantation Resort. The plan calls for building a total of 34 single-family vacation houses and an additional 86 single-story bungalow hotel units. The developer would also build a spa facility, wellness center, meeting rooms, and dining and beach facilities for their residents’ use.
However, the proposed project has already received serious opposition from Kauai residents, who are concerned that the project would ruin the view from Hanalei Bay and transform the natural beauty of the area. Nearly 5,000 residents have signed a petition to preserve Hanalei Ridge. The opposition group is proposing to have Omidyar and his developers set aside a section of his land to become conservation land. They have also requested that 25 out of the 34 proposed houses be relocated so as to not obstruct the view plane.
If you would like to find out additional information about the project, please go to www.hana­lei-­plantation.com or www.savehanaleiriverridge.com
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-13-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Proposal to Ban Smoking at Five Additional Beach Parks


City Councilman Stanley Chang has introduced a new bill (Bill 72, 2012) which would ban smoking at Kapiolani Beach Park, Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Kuhio Beach, Sandy Beach, and Ala Moana Regional Park. All five beach parks are maintained by Honolulu’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Chang stated, “Cigarette butts are the single largest cause of litter both at our beaches and generally in the community. We’re very concerned about the litter problem that the butts present, as well as the public health and safety issue. When people on the beach are exposed to the lit butts in the sand, that’s a big problem. If this is successful, absolutely there could be a beach park smoking ban island wide.” Chang’s proposal is not without precedence. Currently all public beach parks on the Big Island of Hawaii (Hawaii County) has banned smoking. On the island of Oahu, the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is already smoke free.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-13-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Hotel Numbers Strong for Hawaii in September 2012


According to a report released by Smith Travel Research and Hospitality Advisors LLC, hotel occupancy across the state was 73.8 percent in September 2012.  More impressively, the average daily rate had increased by 8 percent to $186.47 and revenue per available room had increased by 7 percent to $137.61 per night.  While these numbers have been strong, industry experts are quick to point out that higher costs have reduced hotel profits.  Chief Executive Officer for Outrigger Enterprises, David Carey, commented, ”The untold story is that while we may be having really positive revenues, we’re also experiencing record cost increases.  Those costs marched along, rising all the way through the period. Profit margins have gone down because costs over the five-year period have grown faster than revenue.”  
President and CEO for Hospitality Advisors, Joseph Toy, added, ”There’s certainly higher labor costs and utilities have gone up substantially. Property maintenance costs overall have increased.  There’s a lot of pressure on earnings. It’s a new norm. Some of these costs are just going to be there.  The whole story of the year has been really the recovery, which in turn was driven by Oahu.  The Oahu market in turn was driven by a sharp increase in Japanese and other Asian markets like Korea and China, which all had double-digit growth. These markets overwhelmingly stay at hotels when compared to U.S. visitors who choose other types of accommodations, including time share and condominiums.”
The island of Oahu had the highest occupancy rate at 84.5 percent with Waikiki in particular having an occupancy rate of 85.9 percent. Maui, by comparison, had an occupancy rate of 65.1 percent and Kauai had an occupancy rate of 68.7 percent.  The Big Island of Hawaii had the lowest occupancy rate of 54.2 percent.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-12-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hawaiian Airlines is Financially Strong


On March 21, 2003, Hawaiian Airlines had filed for bankruptcy and stayed there for 26 months until June 2, 2005.  At that point, many wondered if Hawaiian Airlines would ever fully recover and return to its former glory and success.  Fortunately for the company, strong leadership has helped to turn around their operations completely and an improving economy has allowed Hawaiian to add new domestic and international routes.  Since 2005, Hawaiian has increased the number of employees from 3,317 to 4,816 and has plans to add another 300 positions in 2013.
Imperial Capital investment bank’s analyst, Bob McAdoo, stated, ”It’s a very different company since bankruptcy.  In addition to having more money in the bank, they’ve diversified their customer base and gone into a bunch of markets that are a lot less likely to have competition, or where the competition is very different from where they were historically. Historically, their long-haul business was competing against people who were much bigger than them, and they were competing on the basis of price for U.S. customers coming from the West Coast. I think now they have a better book of business, and they’ve spread the risk.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-11-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Honolulu Rail Project – Native Hawaiian Allowed To Have Say About Burials

To date, archaeologists working for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) have found the remains of five ancient Hawaiian bodies in four separate locations along the proposed line for the Honolulu Rail Project.  Hawaii state law prohibits the moving, destroying or altering of any burial sites except as permitted by the state and local burial councils.  Native Hawaiians believe that the bones are infused with the life force of their ancestors and that their journey in the afterlife is not completed until their bones have dissolved completely.  As a result, HART has asked Native Hawaiian families whose ancestors may have been buried along the proposed rail lines to file claims and register with the  State Historic Preservation Division.  This would allow the Native Hawaiian families to have a say as to what happens with any remains found.

Chief Executive Officer of HART, Dan Grabauskas, was optimistic about how soon the archaeological process would be completed and when rail construction could resume.  Grabauskas stated, “We had a plan and a schedule that had us completing all the trenching work around the end of February. But it now looks like with the acceleration, we’re going to be able to wrap this up, the trenching activity, by the end of the year.”  It is estimated that each month of delay would cost taxpayers between $7 to $10 million.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-11-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Redevelopment Plan for Waikiki Boat Harbor Approved


The State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources has given their approval to Honey Bee USA to redevelop a section of  the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor in Waikiki.  The project, which is tentatively named Waikiki Landing, will cost approximately $20 million and would add two wedding chapels, several restaurants, retail and office spaces, a boat repair facility and a fuel dock next to the Hawaii Prince Hotel. Honey Bee representatives hope that construction could begin as early as January 2013 and be completed by August of the same year.
Not all the harbor’s tenants are happy with this proposal.  Les Parsons, a current small boat tenant, commented, "To be blunt:  Wedding chapels are neither needed or wanted here.  A  truly competent and responsible state boating regulatory agency would never have approved such a nonsensical scheme as has been proffered by a foreign-owned developer.”  Honey Bee responded by stating that adding two wedding chapels and the commercial spaces were needed to subsidize the boat repair and fuel docks.  Honey Bee officials stated, ”A marine supply store does not have the sufficient ‘critical mass’ to be profitable, as demonstrated by the failure of Ala Wai Marine.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-10-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii to Renovate and Expand Koolau Clinic


Kaiser Permanente Hawaii has just broken ground on a $15 million expansion and renovation of their Koolau clinic in Kaneohe.  According to their press release, Kaiser will add a total of 6,000 sq ft of space to that facility, which would include two new examination rooms and a larger pharmacy.  President of Kaiser, Janet Liang, stated, ”This beautiful new facility will make it easier for our members to access quality health care all under one roof.  This expansion project positions us well for future growth and demonstrates our long-term commitment to our members and the communities we serve.”  Kaiser hope to finish this renovation and expansion by late 2013.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-9-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Honolulu Rail Project – Survey Finds More Human Remains in Chinatown

According to a press release made by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, additional human remains were found through the archaeological survey, but this time they were in Chinatown.  This is the fifth different set of remains found at the fourth location in the Downtown/Kakaako neighborhood.  Executive director for HART, Daniel Grabauskas, commented, ”We continue to work closely with the State Historic Preservation Division, the Oahu Island Burial Council and other stakeholders to ensure that iwi kupuna are treated with sensitivity and great respect.  In addition, we have added cultural monitors who include descendants with ties to the area where the work is being done.”

All construction for the Honolulu Rail Project has been stopped until an archaeological survey of the entire rail project has been completed.  It is estimated that each month of delay will cost the city $7 to $10 million in delay claims and other expenses.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-8-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Statistical Sales Data for Oahu for October 2012


Source: Honolulu Board of Realtors
Single Family Home Sales on the Island of Oahu:
October 2012 – 282 Homes Sold – $625,000 Median Price
October 2011 – 223 Homes Sold – $579,000 Median Price
Condominium Sales on the Island of Oahu:
October 2012 – 425 Condos Sold – $325,000 Median Price
October 2011 – 321 Condos Sold – $305,000 Median Price
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-8-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gas Prices Expected to Remain High


The Oil Price Information Service has predicted that gas prices will continue to remain high for Hawaii residents in the foreseeable future, even when drivers on the mainland United States have seen decreases.  Chief oil analyst for the OPIS, Tom Kloza, stated, ”Unfortunately, the rest of the country could see prices drop for gasoline, and Hawaii’s a little bit unplugged from the rest of country.  Hawaii’s probably going to have the highest prices in the country for the next eight years just based on geography.  It’s expensive to get crude oil there and expensive to refine it.  It’s more of an international market. You’re pretty much captive to more expensive international prices. Hawaii’s a little bit of a wild card.”
Kloza predicted that Hawaii’s gas prices will hover around $4 per gallon throughout the rest of the year, while the rest of the country will see an average price of approximately $3.25 per gallon.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-7-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Kirk Caldwell Wins Mayor Race


Kirk Caldwell is going to be the next Mayor of Honolulu after he beat former Governor Ben Cayetano with 53.9 percent of the popular vote.  This is being hailed as a great victory for the supporters of the Honolulu Rail Project as Caldwell has opened supported the $5.26 billion endeavor and Cayetano has aggressively opposed it.  Caldwell told his supporters, ”I want to let everyone know that we’re going to work together to move this city and this county forward.  You have my total commitment, total commitment, to work hard every single day, 24/7 on all the issues.”
Ben Cayetano believed his loss was due to negative campaigning caused by special interest groups like the Pacific Resource Partnership.  Cayetano stated, ”I thought if the issues were discussed fairly, openly in a debate, that we would win this election.  Never in my wildest dreams did I even contemplate that an organization like PRP (Pacific Resource Partnership), whose members are anonymous, would come out and spend $3 million to attack me.”. Cayetano has sued the PRP for character defamation and noted that their advertisements are false and defamatory.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-7-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kauai Real Estate – Statistical Sales Information for October 2012


Source: Hawaii Information Service
Single Family Home Sales for the Island of Kauai:
October 2012 – 38 Homes Sold – $410,000 Median Price
October 2011 – 27 Homes Sold – $450,000 Median Price
Condominium Sales for the Island of Kauai:
October 2012 – 29 Condos Sold – $250,000 Median Price
October 2011 – 21 Condos Sold – $350,000 Median Price
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-6-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Big Island of Hawaii Real Estate – Statistical Information for October 2012


Source: Hawaii Information Service
Single Family Home Sales for the Big Island of Hawaii:
October 2012 – 155 Homes Sold – $299,999 Median Price
October 2011 – 129 Homes Sold – $242,000 Median Price
Condominium Sales for the Big Island of Hawaii:
October 2012 – 45 Condos Sold – $215,000 Median Price
October 2011 – 27 Condos Sold – $215,000 Median Price
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-6-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Maui Real Estate – Statistical Information for October 2012


Source: Realtors Association of Maui
Single Family Home Sales for the Island of Maui:
October 2012 – 98 Homes Sold – $487,000 Median Price
October 2011 – 74 Homes Sold – $482,500 Median Price
Condominium Sales for the Island of Maui:
October 2012 – 94 Condos Sold – $351,495 Median Price
October 2011 – 77 Condos Sold – $310,000 Median Price
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-6-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Developer Peter Savio to Expand Pagoda Brand


For the past several years developer Peter Savio has worked hard to create his Pagado brand of Hotels which caters towards kamaaina (local Hawaii residents) and college students who are looking for clean but economical rooms.  At a recent press conference, Savio has announced that he will be expanding his Pagoda hotel brand to two additional locations, in Kapolei on the island of Oahu and in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Both sites are located extremely close to the University of Hawaii’s West Oahu Campus or the University of Hawaii Hilo Campus, respectively, and Savio believes that students will help to keep the occupancy rates high.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-6-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Hawaii Gas Seeks Approval to Ship Natural Gas


Hawaii Gas is currently seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to be allowed to ship liquefied natural gas from the West Coast to Hawaii.  The company believes that if they are able to ship large quantities of natural gas to the islands, it could replace the need to use oil for the majority of the state’s electricity generation.  However, the state Department of Transportation has expressed a concern that there is not enough “safety distance” between the proposed Hawaii Gas facility at Honolulu Harbor and the surrounding area.  The DOT emphasized that Hawaii Gas had to comply with all state environmental and regulatory requirements.  The Sierra Club and the Blue Planet Foundation have also expressed their opposition and argue that Hawaii Gas’ proposal is contrary to the state’s foal of being dependent of fossil fuel.  The Federal Energy Regulator Commission has not announced when they will make their decision to allow Hawaii Gas the right to ship natural gas to the state.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-5-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Waikiki Natatorium May Become a Beach Volleyball Facility


In 1927, the Waikiki Natatorium was built as a living memorial for all Hawaii residents who served during the First World War.  The outdoor, ocean water swimming pool hosted countless swim meets and diving competitions, but also served the public as a place that taught generations of adults and children how to swim.  However, a lack of maintenance and the damage that the sea water had created caused the pool to shut down in the 1960s.  At this point, experts feel that the pool is no longer safe for any type of water related activity and the cost to completely renovate it would be too high.
As a result, a recent proposal has been submitted to turn the Natatorium to a world class beach volleyball facility.  Supporters of the proposal note that it would not be too difficult or expensive to fill in the outdated pool and rebuild the stands to allow for spectators   They also noted that there would be a beautiful backdrop of the Pacific Ocean for television coverage that may help to increase tourism to the islands.  The proposal still needs to go through several additional steps before it will be opened up to public discussion.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-4-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Hawaii Tourism Advertising Targets Younger Korean Market


In 2011, the state of Hawaii had 112,567 visitors from Korea and hopes to have increased that number to at least 146,111 visitors in 2012.  However, experts have noticed a shift in the Korean population that has been visiting Hawaii and new advertising through using online videos, memes and other social media have been used to target a younger “hip” Korean clientel.  General Manager for the Waikiki Beach Walk, Conchita Malaqui, explained, “Koreans have been coming to Hawaii for a long time, but we are seeing totally different visitors than before.  Unlike their mothers and fathers and grandparents, conceptually in their minds, success is about being young, hip and cool. They are coming to Hawaii because they see it as an Ĺ«ber-chic, cool place to visit. They are active and they like to shop.”
Senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Aqua Hotels & Resorts, Elizabeth Churchill agreed and added, “We are seeing more romance and honeymoon travelers from Korea,” Churchill said. “They tend to lean toward the Modern Honolulu because of the contemporary style of that resort. They like luxury.”  The Hawaii Tourism Authority noted that honeymooners accounted for 47.5 percent of Korean visitors in 2011.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-4-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Honolulu Rail Project – Federal Judge’s Decision Causes Further Disagreement


In 2001, former Governor Ben Cayetano and other opponents of the Honolulu Rail Project ruled a lawsuit against the city with 57 points of concern regarding the project.  Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Wallace Tashima, sided with the lawsuit on just 3 of the 57 points.  Specifically, Judge Tashima stated that the city of Honolulu had (1) “failed to complete reasonable efforts to identify traditional cultural properties along the proposed 20-mile rail line and must do so now”, (2) “must re-evaluate the possibility of putting a tunnel under Beretania Street as an alternative to a portion of the elevated rail line” and (3) “reconsider the impact the project will have on Kakaako’s Mother Waldron Park.”
Both supporters and opponents of the $5.26 billion rail project feel that Judge Tashima’s ruling favors them.  Long time opponent and mayor candidate, Ben Cayetano, stated, “It shows to the public that this project was rushed so badly that the city didn’t do the work it was supposed to do.  It will set the project back, and it may kill the project.  This project, for all the assurances given to the public, is really based financially on a house of cards.” Cayetano also believes that a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement would be needed based upon Judge Tashima’s ruling which may take several additional months of study and public hearing.
However, current Honolulu mayor, Peter Carlisle, disagrees with Cayetano and stated that Cayetano “is trying to blow up the parts of the ruling that suit his purposes.  While the city did not win completely on all of the major points, the truth is that the issues that remain can and will be addressed in a responsible manner.”  Carlisle added that he has not been able to speak with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) officials about Judge Tashima’s decision due to fact that FTA officials have been busy with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on the east coast.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-3-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Friday, November 2, 2012

HMSA to Raise Premiums by Only 1.2 Percent


The Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA) has announced that they will be raising their medical premiums by just 1.2 percent next year.  The increase will effect approximately 78,000 members, but HMSA officials are quick to point out that this is the lowest rake hike in over five years.  HMSA spokeswoman Elida Yadal stated, “For several years now we’ve had programs in place aimed at slowing the growth of medical costs.  These include our patient centered medical home program and our pay-for-quality programs with doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers. We’re optimistic that these programs are now starting to show results.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-2-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Waikiki Real Estate – Island Colony Undergoes $6 Million Overhaul


The Island Colony Condominium Hotel, located at 445 Seaside Avenue in Waikiki, will be undergoing a $6 million overhaul and renovation.  The hotel portion will now be managed by the Aqua Hotel Group and will rename their portion The Aqua Skyline at Island Colony.  In addition to renovating over 110 guest rooms, the common areas will also under significant work.  There will be a new front desk area, an upgraded swimming pool, a new fitness center and BBQ area, and there are even plans to add two dining venues to the property.  Senior vice president of sales and marketing for Aqua, Elizabeth Churchill, stated, “Given the dramatic difference in overall guest experience, we felt it appropriate to rebrand this property with a name that more closely reflects the new look and feel of the hotel.”
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-2-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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Construction Industry Gaining Strength


According to a forecast released by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO), Hawaii’s construction sector had been gaining strength and starting to recover, even if the Honolulu Rail Project remains on hold.  According to UHERO, the number of commercial and residential building permits has increased, which will help the industry move forward.  However, UHERO does acknowledge that the construction industry could use the huge boost that the Honolulu Rail Project would provide.  The report stated, “We have pushed back our forecast for rail work by one year compared with our previous estimate. And of course we await the outcome of November’s mayoral election, which could affect rail prospects beyond that.”
The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization predicts that construction jobs will increase by 0.6 percent in 2012 but will increase by 7.7 percent in 2013.  The tiny gain this year would be the first percentage increase since 2007.
Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser, 11-2-2012, www.staradvertiser.com
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