Canadian businessman Stephen Petasky plans to transform a roughly 5.5-acre vacant lot at the Mauna Lani Resort into a luxury residential community that seamlessly unites modern technology and style with traditional Hawaiian culture and beauty.
In the midday sun Monday, Petasky walked the grounds of the planned Residences of Laulea with his family, project manager and architects. They followed Danny “Kaniela” Akaka Jr., a kahu and cultural historian, who used ti leaves to sprinkle saltwater in blessings on the South Kaniku Drive property’s four corners. Meanwhile, the crowd of investors and supporters underneath a tent, stood in silence, putting their positive energies, mana and spirits together for the success of this $50 million project.
During the land blessing ceremony, Akaka said Laulea — Hawaiian for peaceful and happy — is an appropriate name for the high-end, gated community, which will “be a gathering place for people to enjoy, rest and relax.”
While giving a sense of place, Akaka spoke about how the project sits on the 16th century Kaniku lava flow and in the land area known as Kalahuipuaa, a place revered and cherished by alii. More than a royal retreat, he explained it’s “a powerful place with an impressive history” and where one ventured to for rejuvenation of health and spirit. Considered the piko of Hawaii’s five great volcanoes, it has great spiritual powers, he added.
Emma Defries, a renowned kahuna, named the Mauna Lani Resort in a spiritual way. The name, meaning mountain reaching for heaven, came to her in the way of a dream, Akaka said.
For Petasky, president and co-founder of The Luxus Group, the Residences of Laulea is “truly a dream realized.” He and his family have been coming to the resort area for many years. He fell in love with the people, the land, the lifestyle of Hawaii Island, which he called “a very unique and special place.” Oftentimes during their visits, he and his wife, Carrie, would ride bikes to the beach club. Passing by the vacant lot, he originally thought it was part of the nearby golf course. With some searching, Petasky said they discovered “it was truly 5.5 acres of bliss that was stuck in the middle and had not realized its full potential yet.”
After four years of “beating on the doors,” Petasky said the previous owner “graciously” agreed to sell the property to his luxury real estate company four months ago. According to the county Real Property Tax Office, the sale amount was $5.3 million.
This is The Luxus Group’s first Hawaii development. The company has properties in various places around the world, including Canada, Italy, Costa Rica and Napa Valley, Calif. The Residences of Laulea will consist of 17 residences, ranging in price from $2 million to $4 million. The 2,700- to 3,000-square-foot units will have four bedrooms, pool decks, spectacular views, convenient beach access, as well as a range of resort services and amenities. Aiea, Oahu-based Kahiau Design Group LLC is doing the environmentally conscious and elegant designs, which “masterfully blend indoor and outdoor living spaces,” Petasky said.
Two firms are in the process of bidding for the project. Meanwhile, The Maryl Group is scheduled to begin site work at year’s end. Construction, anticipated to begin by summer 2015, will take about 20 to 24 months to complete, Petasky said.
There seems to be “a much-needed gap in the market for new, high-quality homes in this price range” and lots of interest in the project, as evident of the dozen or so people not just inquiring, but already wanting to call dibs on the units, Petasky said. The presale of units is slated to occur in the fall, he added.
The project promises to be a huge investment — at least $30 million to $40 million — in the local economy as Petasky and his project manager, Jon Lawrence, will be working exclusively with Hawaii-based architects, engineers, designers and builders.
Investing in the community is something The Luxus Group believes is vital, and to show its sincere commitment, Petasky presented a giant $30,000 check to the Friends of the Future, a Waimea-based nonprofit that provides “a home for programs that unify, empower and strengthen individuals’ and organizations’ ability to flourish.”
That donation will be distributed over three years and the first year’s funds are unrestricted, giving the nonprofit the flexibility to quickly respond to and help those programs most in need. The Friends of the Future has 14 programs this year, said Executive Team Leader Susan Maddox.
For more information about this new residential community, visit laulea.ca.