When buyers purchase new homes within the private Hawaiian community of Hokuli’a, they transform themselves into lady and gentlemen farmers, embracing the environmentally friendly traditions of the Big Island’s specially zoned Kona Field System—the largest, rain-fed agricultural region on Earth.
Spreading across 1,260 acres across the Kona Coast, Hokuli’a settles into a traditional agricultural landscape in the shadow of the Mauna Loa volcano. Built on soil enriched by nutrients originating deep within the Earth, all lots at Hokuli’a sell with their own farmland to grow crops that owners must plant and harvest either on their own or with expert assistance from the development’s community association.
Matthew G. Beall, CEO of real estate brokerage Hawaii Life, said Hokuli’a enters a lava-hot Big Island real estate market with very little inventory. The property’s unusual agricultural element gives the venue a chance to attract a unique sort of buyer.
“We’re seeing a mix of families, Generation Xers and baby boomers,” Mr. Beall said. “They come here because Hokuli’a is in (the Kona Field System) area historically zoned for farming—a space away from the busier, more developed stretches of the Kona Coast. The unique element of the land zoned for agriculture gives them a special connection to their homes here.”
Hokuli’a sits 20 miles south of Kona International Airport, closest to the town of Kailua-Kona. While early buyers seemed interested in creating their second or vacation homes on the island, Mr. Beall said the pandemic changed that. Many new home shoppers are looking to build their primary homes within the community for privacy and distancing—whether they’re retired or working remotely.
“We’re in the early phases with 25 homes already in place,” he said. “We’ll eventually have a total of 538 lots, each including a one-to-three-acre agricultural easement.”
Judith Soltz, a homeowner who got in on Hokuli’a early, says the area offers the most perfect climate in the world in addition to the farming opportunity.
“Here we enjoy apples, bananas, Tahitian limes, meyer lemons, navel oranges, tangerines and rambutan,” Ms. Soltz says. “We even roasted coffee from our property this year. We planted a variety of gardenias that provide fragrance all year long.”
Mike Vitousek, Hokuli’a manager of land and development, oversees agricultural resources and aids in the operation of the developing cultivation-centric community.
“Farming is more authentic to our location here,” Mr. Vitousek said. “This area has always been used for agriculture, and it’s less of a traditional resort setting. It’s more isolated and removed from the island’s developed areas. The Agriculture Development Plan for the property allows homeowners to submit their plans for approval, whether they want to grow Kona coffee, avocados, oranges, grapefruits, limes, lemons, mangos, pineapples or harvestable flowers.”
Hokuli’a is not the only Big Island development taking root in the agriculture zone. Satori Ebedes, a real estate professional with Hawaii Life, said there are economic benefits to buying a home in the middle of farm country—including lower property taxes.
“There are more than 4,000 farms on the Big Island, and agriculture is a $247 million industry for its citizens,” Ms. Ebedes says. “About half of those farms are smaller than 10 acres in size and are owner operated.”
Ms. Ebedes said new developments such as Hokuli’a are a good investment, but she also values the solitude of farm life.
“If you’re looking for a less crowded, private escape to call home, these farming developments are great opportunities,” she said.
To demonstrate the new popularity of home buying in the Kona Field Zone, Ms. Ebedes pointed to the Kuwili Lani site, a 13.9-acre community made up of 11 one-acre lots zoned for agricultural use and serving as low-impact and low-carbon footprint development.
Back at Hokuli’a, the property’s resources allow homeowners to plant, cultivate, harvest and sell their chosen crops within the community or to local businesses. Much of the fresh produce finds its way to the development’s clubhouse for sale to residents or to be served in the restaurant and bar. If the would-be agronomists are less ambitious and don’t want to get their hands quite so dirty, the Community Association can assist in all aspects of growing and selling a given crop.
Mr. Vitousek suggests a traditional resort or private housing complex would be impossible amid Hokuli’a’s more remote Kona climbs. Agriculturally-friendly zoning laws and potential opposition from state and local governments made certain every home at Hokuli’a embraced its region’s history.
“The Kona Fields System is not known for large farms, except for the coffee industry,” Vitousek explains. “It’s more of a co-op environment here, and the small farms of Hokuli’a fit in well with that community.”
The Hokuli’a development opened onto a real estate market booming amid Covid-19. According to Hawaii Life’s 2020 market report, combined luxury property sales (defined as homes selling north of $3 million) grew from $1.54 billion in 2019 to $1.95 billion in 2020. The Big Island itself accounted for more than 100 luxury transactions totaling $585.9 million in 2020, outpacing the previous year by more than 50%.
Carrie Nicholson is the exclusive listing agent and director of sales and marketing for Hokuli’a. She said the development’s prime attractions for buyers are the unique location away from the tourist fuss, the ability to develop farmland in an environmentally supportive manner and the chance to build a home of their own unique design.
“All of the homes here are custom, though we do have some move-in ready properties on the secondary market,” Ms. Nicholson said. “Home plans go through a design review by the community, but buyers can bring in an architect of their choice. We can also support the buyer with suggestions on architects, contractors and building crews.”
Nicholson explains that Hokuli’a is currently in its second stage of development, offering 20 oceanside lots with sea views and ocean access along three miles of Pacific shoreline. These phase-two lots are among the venue’s hottest potential sellers, with estimated prices ranging from $4.25 million to $7.5 million.
Since even Hokuli’a’s homebuyers don’t necessarily want to play Old MacDonald 24/7, the development lays on the sort of elite amenities Big Island private communities require. A private, 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course awaits residents and their guests. Community members can also visit a shoreline park, hiking trails, nature viewing areas, picnic areas and a landing for water sports.
The property’s Club at Hokuli‘a serves as a community gathering space with its private clubhouse and nine connected pavilions offering a spa, fitness center, golf shop, open-air yoga pavilion, three-lane lap pool and tennis courts. The onsite Pavilion Restaurant and an outdoor bar with a view keep all of that activity fueled.
If you ask Mr. Beall, the island smiled on Hokuli’a as the region’s climate recently changed, as if welcoming the site’s homeowners. In eras passed, the Kona Field System and the surrounding mountain sides were often-shrouded in marine layer mists for much of the day. The 2018 Kīlauea volcanic eruption changed that, altering the surrounding environment and bringing clear ocean views back to the venue.
“For decades, the fog in Kona was so thick that you couldn’t see the ocean by noon,” Mr. Beall said. “The eruption changed the way the crater was venting. Now the air is crystal clear at Hokuli’a’s elevation, making it the most unique real estate on the Big Island.”
Article Source: Mansion Global