Panel approves Montana Beach house demo

WAILUKU – Maui County is on its way to finally leveling the infamous Montana Beach house in Paia with a council committee Tuesday recommending approval of $50,000 for demolition work scheduled to begin early next year.

The demolition would bring an end to the more than decadelong saga of the once luxurious oceanfront home on the Paia side of Baldwin Beach Park that had been mired in a legal tangle over the granting and later rescinding of a special management area permit.

In 2008, the county took ownership of the property in a $4.1 million settlement. Then for years, the county was tied up trying to decide what to do with the 2,500-square foot structure that was built with luxurious features and materials. There were proposals to use the house as a community center, to move the house and later to try to sell some of the luxurious pieces of the house as part of its demolition.

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

County Deputy Finance Director Mark Walker told the council’s Budget and Finance Committee on Tuesday afternoon that the administration was seeking $50,000 for the demolition work – $10,000 more than the winning bid of $39,950 from Pacific Concrete Cutting & Coring Inc.

The second lowest bid was $75,340, Walker said.

He said the extra $10,000 was for unforeseen or unanticipated costs of the demolition. “(Our) goal is not to come back to the committee” seeking more money, Walker said.

Committee Chairman Mike White questioned Walker about the “high” contingency fund amount, which is 25 percent of the actual work cost. White said that there is concern over “telegraphing to the contractor we have additional monies available.”

Walker agreed that the $10,000 was a large amount, but said it was “just a round number” for contingency costs.

The department will follow up with a report after the demolition is completed; it will say “that the Montana Beach saga is pau and behind us,” Walker said.

The contractor, who will have a six-month contract, still needs to obtain demolition and removal permits, he said. Walker expected work to begin in early 2014.

The company will have 180 days to complete the work once all the permits are executed, said county Communications Director Rod Antone. He added that the company will be allowed to salvage any of the materials.

In the spring, the county issued a call for bids to demolish and dispose the home. One option was to have the county pay the contractors to demolish and dispose of the structure. The other option was for a contractor to demolish the structure and then pay the county for the recovered building materials.

No one submitted a bid for the later option, Walker told committee members.

The council committee unanimously approved the measure and sent it to the full council for review.

The Montana Beach house was built in 2001 on a site designated as open space. The house is actually three structures connected by walkways.

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.

The Planning Department had granted a special management permit exemption for the structure then rescinded it, triggering the long legal battle. That resulted in the 2008 lawsuit settlement by the county.

With the lack of occupants, the house has deteriorated. Bee and wasp hives can be found under the home’s eaves. Vandals have broken windows and spray-painted graffiti on walls.

Antone said the county parks department has been overseeing the home and has been trying to manage the insect issues.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at