Buying To Build – Tantalus (Part 1)
Nineteenth in a series
Buyers in the market for a “piece of paradise” are often surprised to find that vacant land – even very large “pieces” – is available and at prices that look like a bargain in comparison to what similar offerings would command elsewhere. In this “Buying to Build” series, Realtors will comment on listings ranging from multi-acre parcels in the country and on the coast to small lots in city neighborhoods…what they will have in common is that all will offer development potential.
Estates on the upper slopes of Round Top and Tantalus, rising above the city of Honolulu to 1,048 and 2,004 feet, respectively, are surrounded by a unique forested environment that includes large parks and miles of hiking trails.
This dual neighborhood can be accessed from Makiki Heights Drive and Round Top Drive, described by a kamaaina resident as “two arms wrapped around either side of the ridges…both of them leading you up to Tantalus at the top.” The winding roads open up spectacular views at every turn.
The boundaries of the Tantalus neighborhood, with its approximately 150 homes, can be set roughly at Puu Ualakaa State Park on Round Top Drive and the 3300 block of Tantalus Drive.
Fifty-acre Puu Ualakaa State Park includes a lookout with a panoramic view of the entire south shore of Oahu. Hiking trails connect the park with the Hawaii Nature Center below.
The upper portion of the mountain, most of which is Forest Reserve, has been administered since the mid 1960s by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and is designated as Conservation land by the State and zoned P-1 by the City and County.
Residents of this “community in the clouds” are protective of the pristine environment. The Tantalus Community Association is a well organized group of volunteers with responsibilities ranging from beautification projects to security.
Minimal real estate activity has been characteristic of the Tantalus/Round Top neighborhood over the years. Residents tend to retain their homes and pass them down to family members, often through several generations. However, as with other upscale kamaaina neighborhoods, the older, and typically large, estates are often subdivided and portions sold as vacant land parcels with potential for the development of one or more homes. Existing homes, ranging from cottages to mansions designed by prominent architects of the day, are often remodeled and expanded.
A case in point is the Vitousek estate on Round Top Drive, which has been subdivided into three separate parcels, one the site of the original home, now extensively renovated. A portion of the property, a 25,254 square foot vacant lot at 4007 Round Top Drive, has recently been placed on the market by Realtor Margie O’Neill of Century 21 All Islands. Priced at $499,999, the property is zoned P-1, Restricted Preservation.
“Although the sloping lot is buildable in terms of its topography, proceeding with construction of a residence would require permission from the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources,” O’Neill said. “A home built on this property would have spectacular views of the ocean, mountains, city, coastline, sunrise, and sunset. The location is quiet, verdant, and serene at the end of an access road and surrounded by mature trees and native Hawaiian plants.”
She noted that plans for a home on the property were drawn by award-winning Hawaii architect Philip K. White AIA. White pointed out that his design for the residence predates current conservation district regulations and would have to be modified to conform to new DLNR requirements for residential construction on conservation land.
O’Neill is showing the property by appointment.