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Wall Street Journal / Life - Entertain

A Chunk of the Hawaiian Island of Molokai Seeks $260 Million

Seller GL Limited is off loading Molokai Ranch—land that encompasses almost the entire western side of the island—after development efforts ran into local opposition.


Katy McLaughlin

A parcel of land that encompasses almost the entire western side of the Hawaiian island of Molokai is going on the market for $260 million.

Called Molokai Ranch, the roughly 55,575-acre property spans about 35% of the rural island, encompassing 20 miles of coastline, a multitude of secluded beaches, ranch land and forests. There is a 1,200-head cattle operation, two golf courses and a currently “mothballed” hotel and lodge on the property.

If it sounds like a developer’s dream, think again: The seller’s efforts were stymied by intense local opposition. Molokai is a rural island, with no major resorts, few hotels and only a handful of restaurants. It also has locals committed to keeping it that way.

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In 2003, the previous owners of Molokai Ranch proposed a master plan that would have sold 200 lots for luxury homes, built a new hotel and donated 26,000 acres to a land trust, said Kah Meng Ho, chief financial officer of GL Limited, a Singapore-based holding company which became the parent company of the ranch in the mid-2000s. Islanders protested by posting signs against the plan, voicing dissent at planning meetings and establishing a “resistance camp” near the development site, said Karen Holt, executive director of the Molokai Community Service Council.

In 2008, GL closed the lodge and other tourist operations and let go of most of the staff, said Mr. Ho. The company has decided to sell in order to focus energies on its hotel assets in London.

The seller and listing agent believe the buyer will be a private individual. “We are not looking for a buyer who wants to purchase with development rights as a contingency,” said listing agent Scott Carvill of Carvill Sotheby’s International Realty, located on Oahu.

While noting that her group doesn’t represent the island, Ms. Holt said that the community would likely protest a “traditional developer” but not a private buyer.

Write to Katy McLaughlin at katy.mclaughlin@wsj.com