New owner sought for Jacaranda Inn: Lease-hold good for 40 years

  • A large living room is one of many rooms in the main house. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

  • The guest rooms have individual names and color schemes patterned after different flowers such as passion flower, begonia, hibiscus, orchid and isis featured here. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

  • The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

  • The more than 7,000-square-foot main house includes two commercial kitchens, a restaurant space and a bar. (LANDRY FULLER/SPECIAL TO WEST HAWAII TODAY)

WAIMEA — A prime piece of property is up for grabs in Waimea.

Jacaranda Inn, once an estate owned by Laurance Rockefeller, was listed on MLS Nov. 9.

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The country inn sits on 11.34 prime acres of land along Kawaihae Road a mile or so south of downtown Waimea. It includes a 7,613-square-foot main house with two certified commercial kitchens, a bar and a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. The property also has nine guest rooms spread among the main house, a former carriage house, a bunkhouse and a cottage. A separate 2,100-square-foot house, a small chapel and ample parking are also on site.

Priced at $6.9 million, the property is spread over three contiguous parcels made up of rolling hills, gardens, lawns, a stream and a small waterfall. Some 3.6 acres on the east side of the property includes stables, offices, an unfinished house and open land. The underside of the main house has all new copper plumbing and $150,000 was spent on five septic tanks.

Jacaranda Inn sits on land owned by Parker Ranch. The leasehold expires in 2059. A small annual lease is required on top of the $6.9 million price tag.

“Every 10 years the lease goes up a little bit, but overall in the next 40 years there’s about $180,000 total which right now is about $3,500 a year for the lease,” said Jim Zampathas from Island Beach Rentals and Sales, who listed the property last month.

He said he received his first call about the property a half hour after the listing went live.

Jacaranda Inn’s owner, Mary Ellen Revana, lives on property and manages its daily operations. Her children grew up in Waimea and attended Hawaii Preparatory Academy. Revana’s daughter went on to work in fashion design for Vogue magazine and her son, Arun, is Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz’s legislative director and worked for former Senator Daniel Akaka.

A storied past

The historic estate was built in 1897 for Parker Ranch manager A.W. Carter. It served as a home for him and his family for 60 years and included bunk houses on site for ranch hands. Many of the current gardens were originally pastureland and corrals.

Rockefeller, an American philanthropist and businessman, purchased the property in the mid-1960s and lived there while building the Kohala Coast’s first hotel — Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. During that time the property was expanded and grew to its present size. Some of his personal guests included Jackie Kennedy and Henry Kissinger.

In the 1970s and ‘80s, Waimea rancher and businessman William White owned the property and used it as his private residence. In 1989, developers from Kauai opened the estate to the public with shops and a popular restaurant named Hartwell’s. Revana signed an agreement to sublease the property from White in 1993.

“I saw the home when occupied by Hartwell Carter, A.W.’s son. It was very well kept,” historian and Waimea resident Billy Bergin said. “Then it was Bill (White) who gave it the name ‘Hale Kea.’”

The inn was listed multiple times between 1999 and 2011. The price went from $6,350,000 in 1999 to $8,950,000 in 2007 and nearly $10 million by 2010, according to MLS listings. Individual parcels in the estate were also put on the market during the same time period.

“Originally we had a lot of offers but the seller didn’t accept any of them,” Leslie Agorastos said, a Realtor at Clark Realty’s Waimea office who listed the estate previously. “She thought she could get more. It is a spectacular property, but … it is leasehold. The biggest difficulty was that the land owner did not want to sell the fee interest.”

Last year, the restaurant was available for lease but no agreement was reached.

Uses for the inn

Current potential buyers are considering new ways to use the property.

“I’ve been getting a lot of interest, some curious and others more serious,” Zampathas said. “One (potential buyer) would like to make it into a sustainable agricultural event and planning center where people would come from all over the world from different countries, U.N. sponsored, and plant things in different environments. It would be more like a campus with a place to stay.”

“There’s also the farm-to-table concept,” he continued. “A couple of restaurant people have been interested because the conservancy gardens and terraced areas would be ideal for planting. It has a lot of potential because it has the resort and events can be held here with live music.”

A wellness center on property could be another option.

“There’s a wellness center that’s interested in being developed here and having their kind of events for that type of thing,” Zampathas said. “Senior housing could also work there.”

In addition, individuals could form a partnership to run the inn and restaurant.

“They’d pay the bills together,” Zampathas explained. “I have interested parties who want to rent the space for the restaurant, so hopefully we can find a group of people that would all work together.”

Some local residents would like the inn to return to its original grandeur.

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“I hope whoever buys it helps to maintain its elegant setting,” Begin said.

Zampathas added, “Some residents who have grown up here want to make it the way it once was. It has been the center of this community in years past with lots of events. Adding some additional cottages would help it pay for itself. I’m hoping to see whoever takes it over does that. If I had the money, I would do it in a second.”