Montana Beach house demolition open to bids

Maui County is inviting bids from contractors to demolish and dispose of the Montana Beach house. May 1 is the deadline to submit bids.

This marks the second time the county has requested proposals to remove the once-luxurious oceanfront home. For years, it was mired in a legal tangle over whether it should have been allowed to be built on the Paia side of Baldwin Beach Park.

In September, the Department of Finance issued a request for proposals for a contractor to remove the structure and salvage its building materials. That request included an “upset price” of $60,000, which meant that was the lowest price the county was willing to accept for the salvaged construction materials, which include African mahogany, a valuable, high-quality wood.

The current solicitation for bidders does not have an upset price, but it gives bidders two options. In one, they can propose to have the county pay them to demolish and dispose of the structure, in which case the bid would go to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder. Or they can propose to demolish the structure and then pay the county for the recovered building materials.

The contractor will have the option to recycle the materials from the building. However, the county “makes no guarantees or warrantees as to the value of the materials,” the request for proposals says.

County spokesman Rod Antone said the county is no longer entertaining a Montana Beach house demolition proposal from Realtor Michelle Del Rosario, owner of Maui & Co. Real Estate LLC. Her proposal did not meet the $60,000 “upset price” requirement, he said, and county attorneys determined that it wouldn’t be fair to pursue her proposal outside the bounds of the bid process.

“We’re trying to be fair,” he said Tuesday.

Last month, the exact details of Rosario’s proposal were not released publicly because it was considered a “sealed bid.” A county official indicated that Del Rosario’s proposal involved paying the county a nominal amount for the building’s materials.

Last year, the County Council authorized disposal of the Montana Beach structure, while retaining the land in public ownership.

The county’s aim has been to recover as much money as possible to cover its costs of processing permits for the home’s demolition as well as making the building safe as a project work area. Last month, an inspection of the structure found dozens of bee and wasp hives that clung under the home’s eaves. Vandals have broken windows and spray-painted graffiti on walls.

It was not immediately known Tuesday what, if anything, had been done to get rid of the stinging insects.

The Montana Beach house has a long, costly and controversial history. The 2,500-square-foot structure is actually three structures connected by walkways. It was built in 2001 on a site designated as open space.

The Planning Department granted a special management permit exemption for the structure and then rescinded it, triggering a long legal battle. That resulted, in 2008, in the county settling a lawsuit by purchasing an empty lot on the Montana Beach property as part of a $4.1 million settlement.

A 2001 appraisal described the beach house as having high-end materials and workmanship, including mahogany wood, slate and marble flooring, teakwood vaulted ceilings, a Jacuzzi tub, central air conditioning, and mango and koa wood kitchen cabinetry.

In an April 2 letter to John Buck III, an executive assistant to Mayor Alan Arakawa, the Planning Department granted the county an exemption for obtaining an environmental assessment and a special management area permit for the home demolition project. The document valued the project at $200,000, which is $300,000 short of the $500,000 project cost that would trigger a requirement to obtain an SMA permit.

County planners determined the demolition project was not a “development” and would not have a significant environmental impact or ecological effect, according to the department’s letter to Buck.

Planners approved doing the demolition project within the shoreline setback area, although conditions require limiting ground work to removing concrete slabs. Work would cease if any historical or archaeological artifacts were discovered during work.

The contractor will be required to employ best management practices to protect water quality and marine resources. The project would start no later than April 30, 2014, and be completed within a year.

* Brian Perry can be reached at