Extravagant Hamakua home to be auctioned


The owners of a sprawling mansion in Ninole hope that a no-minimum-bid auction to be held later this month will generate a hefty payday.

As of Monday morning, the 8,100-square-foot Water Falling Estate — sitting on 9.44 waterfront acres alongside its own private waterfall — had been listed for 250 days at an asking price of $26.5 million, said Realtor Kelly Moran of Hilo Brokers Realty.

Moran said the decision to put the home up for auction wasn’t the result of the owners feeling financial pressures or a desire to unload the property quickly. Rather, he said, it’s an attempt to drum up interest and competition among prospective buyers, thereby driving up the price for the home.

“There are no financial concerns whatsoever with the owners,” he said. “They owe no money on the property, and they’re not in any kind of financial distress whatsoever. They built this entire project out of pocket without borrowing. … (The auction) was a process they decided to proceed on for maximizing exposure.”

New York City-based Concierge Auctions will put the property up on the auction block on Saturday, March 22, at 11 a.m. at the estate, located at 32-1056 Old Mamalahoa Highway.

“They have the experience to handle something like this,” Moran said of Concierge. “They do an auction like this every week. They’ve done one on the island, over on the Kona side, that was quite successful I hear. … And, there’s already been quite a bit of international interest (in Water Falling Estate).”

Developer Scott Watson, who has built a number of homes on the east coast of the island over the years, says that Water Falling is the biggest project he’s ever done. He discovered the property years ago as he was jet skiing along the coast, and the second he saw the former macadamia nut orchard, he knew it was the perfect location for a home for the ultra-rich.

“This is a multi-generational home that’s going to last forever and ever,” he said Monday. “With the waterfall right next to it … it’s a home in paradise.”

The building was constructed from the ground up to appeal to the very well off, he said. The solid concrete structure is strong enough to hold three helicopters on its roof, and features amenities like a 450-seat tennis/basketball stadium, a 250-million-gallon Olympic infinity pool with a high dive and two-story waterslide, and a nine-tee, “pitch-and-putt” green with multiple holes that provide various par-3 and par-4 play combinations.

The home itself contains five bedrooms — including two identical master bedrooms on the top floor — 10 bathrooms, a four-car garage, a game room, media area, wet bar, chef’s kitchen and more.

It’s a home that caters to “captains of industry” and other mogul-types, Watson said.

“I’d rather not say at this point who all has shown interest. The way these auctions work, it’s kind of a poker game, and you don’t want to show your hand too early,” he said. “But I will say that some of the biggest names in the world are looking at it: corporations … a helicopter engineer, a rap star from South Africa wants to build another house on the property with a recording studio, heirs of wealthy families here in Hawaii.”

Of course, as with any project, the home has its detractors. Watson says he’s butted heads with the county over Water Falling Estate and various other projects over the years. He’s racked up a number of fines with the county Planning Department for various infractions, including violations related to permitting for the helicopter pad on the building’s roof, as well as building within a shoreline setback at a new home under construction at Pepeekeo Point.

Watson has disputed the majority of the fines, and was party to a civil lawsuit filed against Planning Department Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd.

Despite his ongoing troubles with the county, Watson says he’s continued to make a name for himself through his work. At an asking price of $26.5 million, Water Falling is currently one of the most expensive estates on the island, and certainly stands out as unique on the windward side of the island, Moran said.

The County of Hawaii’s Real Property Tax Office assessed the property in 2013 at a far lower value of $2.9 million, however. The main, 8-acre parcel’s land was assessed at $514,400, while the home itself was assessed at just over $2.45 million.

“There’s a big difference between market price and assessed value,” Moran explained.

He added that the sale of the home includes an additional adjacent parcel of 1.3 acres that was not included in the county’s assessment.

Watson says that the home’s over-the-top features, combined with the excitement among bidders likely to be stirred up by the auction, could end up making for a whopper of a sale price. And that, he said, would balance out any stress over offering the property up in a “no-reserve” auction, in which there is no minimum required bid, and the highest bidder takes all.

“I’m not worried,” he said. “My partner, Laurie Robertson, and I have had so much interest in the house since we put it on the market. Rather than sit around and wait for someone to make an offer, we thought we’d force the market. Since the auction announcement, we’ve had a video go viral, and we’ve had some big hitters in the game. We didn’t want the listing to go stale.

“There’s nothing like (Water Falling Estate) in the state. It’s a trophy house. The waterfalls make it what it is, and they aren’t making waterfalls anymore.”

The Saturday, March 22, auction begins at noon, and only pre-qualified bidders and their representatives are invited, Moran said. For more information, visit hilobrokers.com or the auction site at http://www.conciergeauctions.com/auctions/32-1056-old-mamalahoa-hwy-nino....

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.