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Buying To Build – Tantalus (Part 2)

homes0623_3Twentieth 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.

The unique Tantalus community straddles several ridges peaking in the west at 2,004 foot Mount Tantalus, in the east at 1,048 foot Mount Round Top, and Puu Kakea, elevation 1,480, in between. The old estates of the kamaaina and missionary families who favored the area are also much larger than what you’ll find in other ridgetop neighborhoods and have attracted affluent new residents, including prominent professionals and a fair amount of celebrities. In addition to the privacy, they appreciate the proximity to downtown which is only about a twenty minute drive.

Charles Black ASID, owner of Furniture Plus, is a long-time Tantalus resident and member of the kamaaina Cooke family who built many of the distinguished old homes in the area.

“Although I grew up in my present home, I moved away for a time, which made me appreciate it even more when I returned,” Black said. “There’s an atmosphere of seclusion and remoteness like no other neighborhood I’m aware of on Oahu. From homes in this part of Tantalus, you look down at a totally unobstructed view of Diamond Head crater and on a clear day, looking in the other direction, you can also see the peak of the tallest mountain in the Koolaus, Konahuinui.”

Black noted that the entire 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.

“The Tantalus neighborhood technically begins at the 3300 block of Tantalus Drive, extends to the summit where the road becomes Round Top Drive, and ends just below Ualakaa State Park. There’s a water tank at each boundary indicative of where city water service begins and ends. We rely on our own catchment systems and those of us who test our water regularly find it to be perfectly pure. If you really want to ‘go green’ and live off the grid, you need only add a PV and solar water heating system and a satellite dish. If that’s the lifestyle you want, Tantalus is the place to build.

“We have some of the best maintained parks and trails on the island, including 50-acre Puu Ualakaa State Park…a wonderful recreational resource with picnic areas and a pavilion donated and built by the Rotary Club of Metropolitan Honolulu which also organizes work parties to maintain the area. The park is accessible by trails emanating from the Hawaii Nature Center…you can literally walk this network of trails over the top of the mountain to Nuuanu or Manoa.”

Black pointed out that two organizations are dedicated to the beautification, protection, and preservation of the neighborhood’s special environment, the Tantalus Community Association, a group of volunteers, and the new Friends of Tantalus. The loop road formed by Round Top Drive and Tantalus Drive has recently been designated a National Historic Roadway.

Currently Black is represented by Prudential Locations Realtor Tom Presler in marketing a portion of his two and a half acre estate. One of the parcels, a total of 26,461 square feet, includes three separate lots, one of which includes the original Black family home built around 1910; Presler has listed it at $2.25 million. A vacant lot of 20,659 square feet is available at $1.25 million. New homes could be built on both parcels with permission from the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. Black has created a schematic design for a 3,500 square foot, two-story house for the vacant lot.

Presler said the Black property occupies the most desirable site in the area, Manoa Ridge, so named because it overlooks Manoa Valley. Homes built on the lots would have a view of Diamond Head directly below and, to the west, Pearl Harbor, Ewa Beach, and sunsets.

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