Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

*****Hawaii Foreclosure Scam*****

Five people have been arrested for tricking homeowners who were facing foreclosure.  The five Honolulu residents told homeowners they could remain in their homes if they agreed to fake sell their home but the “transaction” eventually resulted in foreclosure.  To date more than 17 people have been charged in Hawaii with mortgage fraud claims.

 So how did we do last week on new listings and sales?  As you will see we have another great week of closed transactions, the new inventory that came on the market is a little lower than what is has been.  For a complete list island wide    CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET

*****Poipu Condo Catches Fire*****

A unit at the Manualoha, which is located at the Poipu Kai here in Poipu, caught fire on Monday and $900,000 worth of damage was done.  The cause for the fire is under investigation.  poipu-kai-fire.jpg manualoha-after.jpg The 2 bedroom 2 bath unit was on the top floor and was totally destroyed and the unit below sustained smoke and water damage.  Fast acting construction workers in a nearby unit saw the smoke and alerted the fire department and tried to put the flames out while help was on the way.

*****Tourist Hummer Burst into Flames*****

A visitors Hummer burst into flames on Lumaha’i Beach on the North Shore late Saturday after the driver got stuck in the sand while driving on the beach.  The black smoke billowed and the tires melted while the driver posed for photos with locals waiving “shaka” signs.  No injuries were reported.

*****Governor Vows to Veto Tourist Tax Hike*****

In effort to cover the budget shortfall Hawaii lawmakers approved several tax hikes and Governor Linda Lingle has vowed to veto the bill.  If she does this a Democratic controlled Legislature would be faced with it’s first ever opportunity to override her veto.  Governor Lingle is considering the cigarette tax hike which would bring in $26 to $28 million a year.  Currently a joint House-Senate committee is working on a budget that would spend 2 billion less in the next two years. 

The items that the Hawaiilawmakers passed and sent on to Lingle are:

Accommodations tax to go from 7.25% to 8.25% and then 9.25% the following year

Increase in income tax for those making more than $150,000 for single filers, heads of household at $225,000 and joint filers making an excess of $300,000.

Tax raise on second home transfer valued at over 2 million

 Lingle feels she can get the money in labor savings from government workers but the unions have shown little willingness for that.

*****Passengers and Crew Injured on Air Canada Flight*****

Fifteen people were injured on board an Air Canada flight that was flying from Sydney Australia to Vancouver, British Columbia when it hit extreme air turbulance.  The flight was diverted to Honolulu where 9 passengers and 2 flight attendants were treated for injuries.  After two hours the plane departed to Canada after it was inspected.

Kauai Real Estate and Local News

*****Kauai Real Estate News*****

A single bidder has won the right to buy the remaining 200 units at the Ilikai Hotel for $50 million dollars.  iStar FM Loans LLC offered the only bid for the iconic hotel.  Another bidder could still come forward at the upcoming confirmation hearing.  In our local real estate news Kalepa Village phase 4 opened which low income housing is owned by the county of Kauai.  These are 3 bedroom condos and are filling in a much needed demand for affordable housing.  This is one of the two affordable housing projects on Kauai.

For an island wide list of what came on the market last week and what sold CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET

*****Ko’a Kea AKA Poipu Beach Hotel Re-Opens*****koa-kea2.jpgLast Tuesday the Ko’a Kea opened its doors after being shut down for over 16 years.  Hurricane Iniki wrecked major destruction upon the hotel and it has been one of two hotels that still have not reopened (CoCo Palms being the other).  My first trip to Kauai was in May of 1992 and I don’t remember the hotel too well so my investigative trip over to the resort was all new to me.  The footprint of the hotel is the very same which are 112 rooms ranging from Garden to Ocean View.  It definitely has an old Hawaii feel to it, I loved the outside bar with the over the top ocean views. koa-kea-3.jpg   There was a fun crowd hanging out enjoying the view and drinks when I walked by to see the interior of the lobby which has a 50’s island chic look to it, I really liked how clean and bright it was.  There’s another bar inside the lobby along with a Spa and a new restaurant “Red Salt”.  Rates start at $499 for a Garden View (little pricey???) but they are running a special called “Isle See You In Poipu” and it drops the Garden View room down to $299.

*****Hawaii Foreclosures Up Lending Tightening Up***** The Big Island and Oahu have been hit hard with second homes or rental homeowners walking away from their properties thus causing our foreclosure numbers to go up.  I can first hand report that lending on second homes has become a challenge.  Borrowers now need at least 30% to 40% down, great credit and well documented income.

  *****Ala Moana Files for Bankruptcy*****

Chicago based General Growth Properties Inc. who is the owner of Oahu’s Ala Moana Shopping Center has filed for chapter 11.  They posted $30 billion in assets and $27 billion in debt.  The firm owns additional shopping centers in the islands (none on Kauai) and on the mainland including the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.

*****Breaking News From Kauai’s’ Westside!*****

On Kaua’s’ Westside two new much needed faces are on the scene.  Read my special blog posting on Island Taco and Java Hut:     


Breaking News From Kaua’i's Westside!

islandoutside.jpgPeople have asked me what I miss the most about California since we moved here five years ago and I have always said the same thing; Family and Friends, the Outlet Malls and Tacos.  I used to say that……until now.  Just opening up in Waimea is Island Taco and it rivals any taco I’ve had in California.  grindowner3.jpg The restaurant is owned and operated by Kirk Marois who is the owner of Grinds Cafe in Eleele and his partner Mike Howard.  Together they are doing a booming business on the Westside which, until now, had very little in the way of good food at great prices.  The tortillas are hand made daily and you can taste how fresh they are!  I inquired and found out that all the ingrediants are made fresh daily and that scored BIG points to a California native like me. 

The menu price is very reasonable and starts at $6.00 and caps out at $12.50 so you’re able to get a great meal at a very reasonable price.  The menu highlights their specialty which is fish tacos and they are beyond yummy!  Also available are chicken tacos, quesdillas, burritos, chimichangas.  If your bringing the children Island Taco also has a keiki menu (big seller on the keiki menu is the hotdog chimichanga) and prices were around $5.00.  I had the chicken taco plate for $8.00 grindsfood.jpgand it had two good sized tacos that were filled with rice, chicken and cabbage and had sour cream and salsa on the side.  It also came with chips and salsa and there are additional sides that you can order.  My husband had the seared Wasabi Ahi fish taco that got two thumbs up!  Also available are Kalua Pork Taco, Season Tofu Taco, Mahi Mahi Taco and Ono (Wahoo) Taco.  

Island Taco has a niche in providing a perfect lunch for your trip to Waimea Canyon or a day at Barking Sands Beach.  Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 7 days a week.  

Attached to Island Taco is a drive thru Espresso Coffee hut called “Java Hut” which opens at 5 am providing fresh coffee drinks, pastries and iced drinks.  ron-and-will.jpg coffeemenu.jpgOwned and operated by Todd Marois (Kirks brother) Java Hut provides a convenient drive through so you can grab a fresh coffee and pastry to go on your way to Waimea Canyon or an iced drink when spending a day in Waimea Town.    Java Hut is open 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. 7 days a week and is the only coffee espresso shop in Waimea!  I had the Chai Tea Carmel Freeze and my husband had the Chai Tea White Chocolate Freeze and they tasted perfect on the warm spring day we were enjoying in Waimea.  Prices were great, cup of coffee started at $1.75 and the specialty drinks were in the $3 and $4 dollar range.  

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

Christie’s Great Estates - Your Link to Distinctive Properties Worldwide

 *****Hilton Kauai Beach Resort Auction*****

Another Brian Anderson property is in trouble.  On the heels of last weeks news that Andersons Waikiki Ilikai is being auctioned off an announcement was made that his Hilton Kauai Beach Resort and it will be sold at public auction next month.  The 145 condominium hotel units and 15 commercial condominium units will be sold in bulk at the May 6 auction at the entrance to 5th Circuit Court in Lihue.  The New York lender, iStar Financial, filed for foreclosure on the property claiming Anderson and his KB Resort LLC were in default of nearly $29.5 million in unpaid principal, interest, late charges and fees.  The amount was what remained from an original loan of $85.75 million — $75.75 million borrowed from sub prime lender Fremont Investment & Loan on Dec. 7, 2005, and $10 million advanced in July 2006, according to the complaint. In June 2007, iStar took over the loans after it acquired Fremont’s commercial real estate lending business.

Good news here on Kauai with our second week of decent sales, most of them being residential.  Getting a loan for vacation rental condos has recently gotten a whole lot tougher here in the islands and Kauai has not been any exception.  Current “condo-tel” loaning policies have become a consistently changing landscape for those properties lucky enough to be able to get loans on them.  For a list of what has come on the market and what sold for last week here on Kauai  CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET

*****Hawaiian Airlines Sees Surge In Passengers*****

A 17.7 increase was seen in the number of passengers for the month of March by Hawaiian Airlines.  Pretty good when you consider that in March of last year Aloha Airlines was still flying and competing with them.  Hawaiian carried 609,000 passengers in March 2008 and are up at 716,000 for March of 2009.  Hawaiian Airlines share price went up 35%.

*****Suspicious Containers Found at Coconut Marketplace*****

A security guard discovered two suspicious containers late morning on Thursday during a routine check.  The Kauai Police Officers and the Kauai Fire Department Hazmat barricaded the area and two Kauai Officers were stationed at the scene overnight.  The next day the Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit from Schofiled Barrack in Oahu arrived and took the necessary steps to insure that the contents of the containers were safe for the Hazmat team evaluate the contents and then the Police Department brought the containers into the Lihue station for further testing.

*****Princeville Residents Considering Coastline Pathway*****

A path to connect the communities of Kilauea, Princeville and Hanalei was the subject of Thursday night’s community meeting at the Prince Clubhouse.  Residents support a path that was thought of a year ago that would allow for pedestrians to bike and walk along the coast.  Stating that “Obesity, coronary disease and sedentary lifestyles are some of the biggest health threats that we face as a nation” the pros of undertaking such a massive project far outweighed the cons.  The grass roots group is called Ke Ala Hele Makalae (The Path that Goes by the Coast) and Ben Welborn of Landmark Consulting is in the process of creating a North Shore Path Alternative Report which will outline the advantages and feasibility of such a path so heartily supported by the North Shore Residents.

Kauai Real Estate and Local News Update

*****Kauai Real Estate News*****

You’ll notice a sizable uptick in the number of closed transactions for last week.  The renewed market interest that we saw in February will start to surface now with closed their escrows closing, hopefully this trend will continue.  New residential lots which are located near Koloa Town called Koloa Creekside came on the market.  These lots are in the 8,559 square foot range up to 1.83 acres.  For an excel spreadsheet of what came on the market and what closed CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET

*****Kukui’ula Shopping Village Offers a Sneak Peek*****

Among the news of tourism in a decline and unemployment numbers rising a welcome bright spot hit the Poipu area on Tuesday evening. The Kauai Chamber of Commerce After Hours program had 250 people in attendance to view the new Kukui’ula shopping center which will offer high end shopping here on the south shore and will provide 250 new jobs.  The center is just beautiful and serves as a prestigious landmark for the entrance into Poipu.  Kukui’ula The shopping center will be hosting a job fair around the date of its opening which is set to be mid-summer.  Just some of the retails stores will include a Merrimans Café, Quiksilver Surf Shop, and a Lappert’s Ice Cream.

*****Lighting Up in Hawaii?*****

Here in Hawaii if you smoke you just might choke on the new tax that is being proposed on cigarettes.  Following on the heels of a .62 cent Federal tax that went into effect on Wednesday the state of Hawaii is trying to push through an additional .40 cent tax.  The additional tax money will go towards Hawaii’s cancer research.  Hawaii has some of the highest taxes on cigarettes in the nation, a pack of Marlboro Reds is $7.80 per pack and Camel Lights are $7.39.

*****Hawaii Stimulus Bill Offers Tax Breaks*****

Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka enacted economic stimulus tax breaks and Hawaii residents should see an additional $333 million in tax breaks in their paychecks during 2009 and 2010 when the IRS enacts the new withholding rules.  There will also be $48 million in guaranteed home loans to rural families; those loans will be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  But as they give they are also looking to take.  Leading Democrats are wanted to increase the state income tax to those that are making over $150,000 a year.  This new tax will be in attempt to balance out the shortfall in the state’s budget.

*****State Still On the Hook for Ka Loko Dam Breach*****

Two out of the three counts levied against the State of Hawaii have been dismissed but Judge Kathleen Watanabe said the state remains potentially liable as the owner of the Ka Loko ditch which feeds into the Ka Loko Reservoir.   The dam broke on March 14, 2006 sending a torrent of water that swept several homes off their foundations and killing 7 people.  Wrongful death suites have been filed against the state and current or former landowners, one being the much publicized James Pfluegaer who was also criminally charged with being a direct cause to the dams’ failure.  A hearing and motion are set for April 21 and 22.