Waiakea Villas goes back to the bank

HILO, Hawaii: The Waiakea Villas is back in the hands of the bank, after a foreclosure auction was conducted at the state courthouse in Hilo on Tuesday.

The mortgage holder, Owners Mortgage Investment Fund, was the only bidder, according to the court appointed commissioner, Hilo attorney Sandra Song.

Waiakea Villas was once a top notch Sheraton resort with a large commercial component when developed by C. Brewer back in the 1970s – with landscaping so special UH horticultural students had to do docent tours for tourists. With the drop in tourism and tough economic times, the Villas have seen many owners, switching to condo residential units, and a separate commercial section that saw various owners, including Ken Fujiyama.

The most recent owners – up until the foreclosure – included companies operated by Vernon and Noe Noe Lindsey.

The Lindseys were present at the auction on Tuesday, and Vernon Lindsey was disappointed with the situation – to say the least.

Lindsey says they had big plans for the property which they purchased in 2010.

When the Lindseys fell behind in payments, a foreclosure was initiated. Matters became more complicated in mid-March when Lindsey filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, which stopped the foreclosure auction, temporarily.

In late April the Bankruptcy was dismissed by the bankruptcy trustee, and Commissioner Song re-scheduled the foreclosure auction, which was carried out at a quick, and tense proceeding at noon on Tuesday.

The news of the auction result was met with relief by many of the tenants trying to run businesses at the Villas. Many, like Will Costa, said they just want to see a stable situation so they can invest in their operations with confidence. Costa hopes to open his Mauloa Coffee shop within the month; he is currently hard at work renovating his future business.

The property includes 12 buildings divided into 32 condominium suites, and only about six or seven commercial tenants are still on site (Lindsey disputes the number), including the Hale Inu sports Bar, Miyo’s Japanese Restaurant, a nail salon, a beauty shop, and Chef Dawn Cabral’s Sweet Thunder Products¬†sushi¬†shop.

These owners see the potential that still exists here at this location… a special place in Hilo, despite the continuing ups and downs.