The purchase of the Poamoho Del Monte plantation camp and conversion into fee simple real property by Realtor/Developer Peter Savio made it possible for residents to continue living in their homes and eventually purchase them. The impending demolition of the 80-year-old pineapple plantation camp near Wahi-awa and eviction of its longtime residents were brought to Savio’s attention in 2007.
“It was one of those situations where everybody concerned —the landowner, ILWU, the George Galbraith
Trust, and Del Monte, whose lease on the property was due to expire — were sympathetic to the plight of the renters and wanted to help, but nobody was ready or equipped to create a mechanism through which the camp could be saved,” Savio said.
After discussions with Del Monte’s legal counsel, it was determined that Savio’s Hawai-ian Island Development Co. Inc. would buy the leasehold camp with its 63 homes for $10. Savio then approached landowner Galbraith Trust and proposed purchasing the 30-acre camp and 60 acres of ad jacent agricultural land in fee for $2 million.
“The situation was critical because the Del Monte lease on the land was due to expire and the Galbraith Trust required restoring the property to its natural state. Fortunately Del Monte and Galbraith were open to a proposal that would satisfy both them and the renters, who wanted to stay,” Savio noted.
“We worked with the City and County of Honolulu to determine the best mechanism to make it possible for the residents to buy their homes at the best possible price. For our company, it was a ‘cost-plus’ project.
“The process was lengthy and complicated, but eventually culminated in the best possible outcome for the residents. The City and County granted a variance so I could condominiumize the property. Homes were initially sold at an average price of about $131,000 and appraised almost double that. The latest appraisal I heard was $365,000.
“Now, 56 of the families who were able to obtain mortgages own their own homes and continue to remodel. Five have torn down the old structure and are building new. For an additional 16 who were unable to qualify for mortgages, but wanted to continue living at Poamoho, I offered Agreement of Sale. Most of those families have refinanced or are in the process of refinancing. Sixty of the acres are rented out to a farmer with the proceeds going toward lowering the maintenance fee.
“Poamoho is one of Oahu’s few remaining plantation communities and home to more than 300 people. The single-family homes, which were built in the 1930s, have from one to three bedrooms and are designed in the style of the period with board and batten construction and double hung windows. Most of them are well maintained with flower and vegetable gardens in the yards. Typically, the camp includes a central park and community hall where the residents’ council holds its meetings. Poamoho is a piece of old Hawaii … and we’re pleased to have had a role in preserving it,” Savio said.