By: Rick Blangiardi
The Kaneohe Ranch company and the Harold K. L. Castle foundation have been venerable landowners and wonderful neighbors who have maintained the quaint, small-town feel of Kailua.
When it was revealed they would be putting about 650 acres of its land up for sale, the town held its collective breath to see who would be stepping forward.
We can all stop holding our breath.
Alexander and Baldwin, a Kamaaina developer and good steward of our land, has stepped forward to make a $373 million deal with Kaneohe ranch. That ensures that a special community will continue to benefit from moderate growth and redevelopment.
While 585 acres is already zoned preservation and agriculture and cannot be touched, the 36 acres in Kailua town will be watched carefully. The good news is that A&B's development policy is similar to Kaneohe ranch and the community will have substantial input into what happens next.
Work on a target store is back underway after numerous delays and whole foods is already a big hit. Other retail development is expected but knowing A&B, it will be done in a manner that is consistent with the community's character.
A&B's Stan Kuriyama and Chris Benjamin are as fine a pair of proprietors as there are and follow in the fine footsteps of Mitch D'olier of Kaneohe Ranch. We can be grateful that we are keeping an important piece of paradise under local control.