HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A company called Bio-Logical Capital pursued a possible purchase of the island of Lanai before software billionaire Larry Ellison bought the island, sources said.
David Murdoch's Castle and Cooke began circulating the opportunity to buy the island of Lanai in early fall of last year, a source said.
One of the firms that negotiated with Castle and Cooke to buy the island was Bio-Logical Capital, which calls itself a land investment, development and conservation company, sources said.
Sources said Bio-Logical Capital was looking to see if it made economic sense to buy the island and was interested in developing wind farms and creating new jobs on Lanai.
The company's web site said it is "committed to making long-term investments in projects that help people, and generate revenue in the Hawaiian Islands."
A spokeswoman for Bio-Logical declined to comment for this story.
Speaking at a zero emissions conference at the Hawaii Convention Center in September of 2010, Bio-Logical Capital CEO Grant McCargo said, "We build to own indefinitely. We don't sell. We don't have an exit strategy that we're trying to achieve before we even finish a building."
"We do feel there is a prosperous opportunity to live on this planet with nature by respecting nature and looking at its natural systems as solutions," McCargo told the conference two years ago.
A source said the Bio-Logical Capital is still interested in developing a wind farm with Murdoch, who has retained the rights to any wind operation on Lanai.
The company has yet to begin construction on any major project in the islands, but it is exploring a number of them. Based in Denver, it also has offices in San Francisco and Honolulu.
The company's web site said it's working on a project called Molokai Renewables, a joint venture with Pattern Energy Group, "to explore an opportunity to provide clean energy to Hawaii in a responsible manner. We are looking at a potential wind project on Molokai Ranch lands that could provide 200 megawatts of clean energy."
The company also said it's in discussions to "develop diversified organic farming practices" on the islands of Oahu and Maui.
A third project, Hawaii Inter island Cable, a joint venture between Bio-Logical and Pattern Energy, "was formed to explore the opportunity to connect Hawaiian Islands via electric transmission cable systems in a responsible manner," according to Bio-Logical's web site.
Sources said representatives of more than a half dozen hotel firms visited Lanai to see if it would make economic sense to take over its two resorts and the answer was a resounding "no."
Hotel experts found it would cost $50,000 to $100,000 per hotel room to bring Lanai's hotels up to current standards, including infrastructure and so-called back-of-the-house improvements, a source said.
The cost of hotel upgrades could easily be in the tens of millions of dollars, a source said.
Hotel experts concluded even if they were given the hotels for free, they'd continue to lose money, a source said.
Murdoch's Lanai's operations lost between $20 and $30 million a year, sources said.
Sources said Lanai sold for hundreds of millions of dollars, but neither the seller nor the buyer will confirm a sales price. More than 3,000 people live on the island which is home to two resorts and two golf courses.