Honolulu’s Kaiser Estate Still Seeks Buyer

An aerial view of Portlock and Koko Head. The former Kaiser Estate can be seen in the left-hand corner along the waterfront.


It’s been nearly two years since the remaining portion of the former Kaiser Estate was put on the market by its owners, Mr. and Mrs. S. L. Chan, and there’s hope that the estate may finally find a new owner, one with pockets deep enough to bring it back to its former glory. According to Mary Worrall Associates’ managing director Alden Yamane, since it was listed, a dozen or so potential buyers have seen the property, three of which were “serious.”

I recently had the rare opportunity to tour the property, and can tell you that, aside from some boisterous chickens and a few trespassing fishermen, the estate sits lifeless and idle, as if a Great Gatsby-esque party rolled through and left in a hurry. But its potential—“good bones,” as realtors say—is still very much intact. The history of this place hits you the second you pass through the foyer of the guesthouse and follows you from the lawn to the boat house like a shadow. Built by developer Henry J. Kaiser in 1959 for a then-jaw-dropping sum of $1 million (about $7.5 million in today’s dollars), the Portlock Rd. estate originally included a pink mansion, two circular houses for Mrs. Kaiser’s pink poodles, a greenhouse for her pink roses and the only private boat harbor and dock on the island. The Kaisers were known for hosting numerous celebrities, including Bob Hope, but the property’s days as an icon of island-style hospitality were yet to come.

When Alfred and Monte Goldman purchased the estate, the brothers, along with Monte’s wife, Sally, renovated the homes’ interiors, giving the remaining guesthouse its swinging-’70s vibe. From marble walls and floors to sunken outdoor bars and banquettes to a wall-sized salt-water aquarium and gigantic restaurant-quality kitchen, the home was transformed into an entertainers’ paradise, and entertain the Goldmans did. Sally was a consummate hostess, and welcomed such boldface names as Jack and Marie Lord, Arthur and Katherine Murray and Jackie Onassis. The home even graced the pages of Bon Appetit and Architectural Digest, which featured a glorious photo of the guesthouse’s groovy den and its 12-foot-wide, Tiffany-style glass dome, the design of which tells the story of Hawaii’s history.

What followed after the Goldmans is like a game of real estate hot potato, the players of which included Japanese billionaire Gensiro Kawamoto, the then-Bishop Estate Trust, and current owners, Fred and Annie Chan. The University of Hawaii graduates, who made their fortune via high-tech ventures and were recently involved in the development of the Moana Pacific and Moana Vista condominiums, picked up the property in 2000 for $9.6 million.

The Chans, who had initially intended to reside at the Portlock Rd. property, had plans drawn up by Hablinski & Manion Architecture for updates of the guesthouse and boat house and for “accessory structures.” However, they decided to remain in California, says Yamane, which led them to put the property up for sale. Potential buyers can purchase the architectural plans for an undisclosed sum. The property is being sold either in its entirety, or can be broken up into three parcels, though, according to Yamane, Mr. Chan would prefer that two of the parcels, particularly the central plot, be sold together.

Money talk: The Kaiser Estate is being sold in its entirety for $80 million fee simple, or broken up into three parcels. The first parcel, which covers 1.9 acres and includes the guesthouse, is listed at $28 million. The second lot, which is the central, 1.6-acre parcel with tennis courts, is listed at $18 million. The third lot covers two acres and includes the private yacht harbor and dock, tri-level boat house and servants’ quarters for $34 million.

Contact: Mary Worrall Associates Sotheby’s International Realty: Mary Worrall, 228-8825, and Elizabeth Worrall Daily, 478-0080. www.oahureale.com.