Country Club Condos rebranding

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HILO — After years of infighting between apartment owners, and trouble paying its bills, the Country Club Condos is hoping to renew its image, starting with a new name.

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HILO — After years of infighting between apartment owners, and trouble paying its bills, the Country Club Condos is hoping to renew its image, starting with a new name.

Now called “Oceanfront 121,” the association-operated building at 121 Banyan Drive is advertising itself as a “healthy place to stay and live” on Hilo’s waterfront, with rooms starting at $700 a month. Utilities are included.

The rebranding effort is being led by resident Michael Combs. He said the condo association hired him to help fill vacant rooms and hopefully put itself in a position for a long-term lease from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Association President Pearl Macomber didn’t return a request for comment.

DLNR assigned the owners’ association a month-to-month revocable permit for the 148-unit building after the land lease expired in March 2015.

“We’re looking for 22 units to be rented … to put us firmly in the black,” Combs said.

The condos earlier fell behind in utility payments as feuding association groups led some owners to stop paying their monthly fees. He said those issues have been resolved, with the association meeting its monthly bill payments as of last July.

But what the association needs to pay back creditors is to fill some rooms.

That’s where the rebranding effort comes in.

“We have a past that we are attempting to clean up,” Combs said.

The long-term plan is to get a new lease for the building and pump in about $5.5 million needed for repairs, he said.

But that would require approval from the state Land Board. A recommendation from DLNR officials, who are eyeing the site for redevelopment, might be hard to come by.

Russell Tsuji, DLNR land administrator, said it remains to be seen whether the aging building can be preserved.

What happens to the property in the future will likely depend on a new development authority Hawaii County is forming to oversee the resort area, he said.

A DLNR report in 2014 estimated the building had five to 10 years of useful life.

Combs said with an investment he is optimistic the building can be put to use for a lot longer.

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“I wouldn’t be going through this without being optimistic,” he said.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.