Scottsdale builder’s long-planned Hawaiian project comes to fruition
DMB Associates Inc. launched Kukui’ula, its first Hawaiian development, with an extensive grand opening event late last month. Plenty of new buyers were in attendance, including some Valley businesspeople.
For Scottsdale-based DMB, it was a victory of sorts for executives who had walked down a long road. The nearly 10-year development process included a lengthy entitlement phase, recessionary challenges and homesites in the $1 million-plus range.
The partnership between DMB and Alexander & Baldwin Inc., dubbed Kukui’ula Development Co. LLC, has invested $400 million to date, with more to come in what ultimately will be a 20-year process, according to Kukui’ula President Brent Harrington.
It’s been a challenging labor of love, especially for DMB.
“We had to keep our nose to the grindstone and get the work done and make it as beautiful as possible,” said Drew Brown, founder and chairman of DMB. “And now we’ve done it. There’s no question that we’ll finish it.”
With the major work completed except for the construction of individual homes, a celebration was in order.
“We’ve now finished all our major amenities and infrastructure and landscaping and retail center, so it’s time,” Brown said.
The 1,010-acre development on a former sugar plantation is on the south shore of Kauai, tucked between the picturesque Po’ipu Beach and the National Tropical Botanical Garden .
“Talk about respect for the environment. (Kukui’ula) feels like it’s always been there,” said Genie Damon, one of the first home buyers.
Damon resides in Silverleaf, another DMB development in North Scottsdale. The Kukui’ula house will be a second home for her family.
Like DMB, the Damons persevered when things began to slow with the recession.
“We’d already decided that we wanted one of the beach cottages when the whole world kind of stopped,” she said. “They were still doing infrastructure, and (completion) seemed light-years away.”
Though they could have backed away from the deal, Damon said they checked the pulse of their commitment every year — “and every year, we said, ‘Yes, we want to continue.’”
There was never any doubt about that in Eric Linthicum’s mind, either. He and his wife are building a custom home on a premium site there. His company, Scottsdale-based Linthicum, was the contractor on the Plantation House, the development’s 20,000-square-foot classical Hawaiian centerpiece.
Besides the Plantation House, some $142 million was spent on an 18-hole Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course, a golf clubhouse, a spa and fitness center, and a pool complex.
“I personally had the opportunity to get to know the project from the inside out and from the ground up,” Linthicum said. “I knew what DMB was going to deliver, and it was consistent with all my family’s desires.”
Though the development includes entitlements for 1,500 homes, there likely will be fewer than that.
To date, 85 homesites have been purchased, including 20 by Valley residents. Four homes have been completed, 21 are under construction and others are in the review process.
Brown said he’s seeing a change in buyers of this luxury community.
“They still want high quality like before, and first-class amenities,” Brown said. “But instead of a 12,000-square-foot mansion, we’re more likely to see them ask for smaller properties — maybe 2,800 to 2,400 square feet.”
Not far away, DMB has created a lush community farm where members can gather a bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and tropical flowers. There’s also a lake for boating and fishing.
“The farm is a really interesting thing to me,” Brown said. “It’s exceeded all of our expectations.”
The combination of natural and luxury amenities integrated into the environment sets Kukui’ula apart.
“It’s a project where it’s all about lifestyle,” Brown said. “We’re trying to be a resource for the rest of the island.”
Though DMB has done numerous high-end developments in Arizona, Utah and California, Kukui’ula sets the bar high, Damon said.
“Everything just works together perfectly. This is the jewel in the DMB crown,” she said.
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