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Dillingham Ranch on O‘ahu – Listed by Hawaii Life

It is not news that Dillingham Ranch, the 2,740-acre property at Mokulēʻia on Oʻahuʻs North Shore, is for sale. It was offered in 2012, and again in 2019. But there is news:

  • This time, Dillingham Ranch is represented by Hawaii Life in partnership with commercial brokerage Cushman & Wakefield ChaneyBrooks
  • The asking price has been reduced to $45 million
  • Our focus in presenting this iconic legacy property is more in tune with the realities of 2020 and the future envisioned for Hawaiʻi, a future with more self-sufficiency in food and energy, an economy diversified with less reliance on tourism and land development.

Dillingham Ranch – a Stewardship Opportunity

Remember The Descendants, the 2011 film starring George Clooney that adapted Kaui Hart Hemmings 2007 novel about Hawai‘i? In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the real world opportunity that still exists to make the choice Clooneyʻs character makes to preserve the family legacy of the fictional “King Ranch” rather than sell to a developer.

Dillingham Ranch on Oʻahu is a spectacularly beautiful location for a buyer who wants the privacy and self-sufficiency of a large ranch property that can be used year-round. In addition, it is one of the few large-scale opportunities across the state to change Hawaiʻi for the better for generations to come by preserving a legacy landholding.

Aerial Dillingham Lodge "The Big House"

Aerial photo showing “The Big House” lodge facilities and the expansive coastline views from Dillingham Ranch

With either of the two other properties I suggested in my March article, a new steward would need to first listen to the land and long time community residents to figure out a master plan for the property. With Dillingham Ranch, at closing, the new owner will have a large intact agricultural holding with plenty of privacy for their own residence or residences, and income from significant existing improvements, uses and businesses that could be enhanced. These include:

  • Equestrian facilities, including the Hawaii Polo Clubʻs oceanfront polo field, horse boarding and training facilities, and miles of trails
  • A working ranch with high-quality pasture for grass-fed cattle or other livestock (currently running about 100 head, but carrying capacity could be as much as 700 head)
  • A commercial palm tree nursery
  • Event venues – both at the renovated, historic Dillingham Lodge with a commercial kitchen and eight bedrooms, and throughout the property as a film location
  • Recreational activities including hunting, hiking, mountain biking in the forested uplands, and swimming, surfing, kayaking, or boating on the oceanfront
Aerial of Dillingham from oceanfront Polo Field

The Dillingham Ranch property has 1,125 linear feet of ocean frontage — and an oceanfront Polo Field

Is Development Still a Possibility at Dillingham Ranch?

The current owners of the property did significant work to secure approval of a Tentative Map for a 70-lot agricultural subdivision and the tentative Environmental Impact Statement was accepted last year.

From my perspective, this is useful primarily because having development rights on a property with significant conservation values creates an ideal situation for a purchaser to use conservation easements to preserve agricultural and forestry uses, receiving either tax benefits or outright income. The National Trust for Public Lands and the local North Shore Community Land Trust have offered to work with a purchaser wanting to ensure this property stays relatively intact.

However, as a stewardship buyer, the obvious question is, what can you build without subdivision? Can you have a family compound or corporate retreat? The simplest answer is that Dillingham Ranch comprises eleven existing parcels, each of which could have a couple of homes. You could build a home or compound in the uplands near the forest reserve and a beach cottage on the oceanfront. Conservation easements allow the property owner to carve out areas for their building sites.

Beach at Dillingham Ranch

How many other large working cattle ranches also have a white sand beach near the North Shoreʻs renowned surf spots?

Alternatively, a Dillingham Ranch buyer who did not mind sharing their privacy with other owners could conceptually create a handful of large house lots to be sold, while preserving most of the property with conservation easements. That is also “development,” but on a scale the land and community infrastructure can readily accommodate.

Intrigued? I look forward to showing this property and discussing whether it fits your 2020 dreams.

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