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Buying To Build – Wilhelmina Rise / Maunalani Heights

Thirteenth 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.

It’s one of the oldest and most densely developed of the East Oahu hillside neighborhoods, but pockets of vacant land in Wilhelmina Rise and Maunalani Heights continue to provide opportunities for new home construction.

Much of the buildable property that has become available over the years has been marketed by Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties Realtor John Peterson. A resident of Maunalani Heights for over 15 years, Peterson has sold more than 40 homes in the area.

Currently Peterson is listing two vacant lots on Sierra Drive and recently sold another on Maunalani Circle. A 6,891 square foot lot at 3950A Sierra Drive is priced at $795,000 and a 6,355 square foot lot at 3950B Sierra Drive at $895,000. Both overlook the ocean, Diamond Head, and coastline from Kahala to the Waianae mountain range. The higher priced lot also offers a view back into Palolo Valley.

Currently in escrow and listed for $945,000 is a 12,400 square foot lot on Maunalani Circle with spectacular, protected views “from sunrise to sunset.” “The property has been CPR’d into three units by the owner, who is building his dream home on one of the lots,” Peterson said. “This property offers a gated entry and will have a large shared common area yard for the exclusive use of the three owners. The owner/developer sold another home in Maunalani in order to develop this property at the top of the hill.”

He noted that owners of vacant land see this as an auspicious time to market due to the prevailing low interest rates…it has become more feasible than ever before to borrow to build. Buyers are gravitating to neighborhoods where shopping, entertainment, schools, and beaches are conveniently close and places of business are accessible without long commutes. Wilhelmina/Maunalani’s proximity to routes into downtown Honolulu originally made this neighborhood desirable when development gained momentum in the 1930s, much of it undertaken by the Matson Navigation Company.

Today buyers who favor the neighborhood also cite its attractions as the eye appeal of its diverse architecture, larger lots than in many of the newer subdivisions, mature trees and plantings, and, depending on altitude and orientation of the property, unobstructed views from Kahala to Barbers Point.

“A number of my buyers have been existing residents of the neighborhood moving to another home in the area for more space or a better view. Some were younger generation members of families established in this neighborhood over the years. As with Pacific Heights and Makiki Heights, Maunalani has its own kamaaina family connections.

“The ongoing upgrading of shopping and restaurants in Kaimuki at the bottom of the hill is another factor. As far as the economics of buying to build in Wilhelmina/Maunalani is concerned, you can end up with a custom, million dollar, view home for less than you might spend for an older home with no view in Kahala.”

Peterson cites other appealing features of Maunalani Heights, inclusive of upper Wilhelmina Rise, as the cool micro-climate, a neighborhood park with a tennis court, basketball court, and recreation center, and hiking trails emanating from Maunalani Circle that lead to wilderness areas.

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