Bio-Logical Capital - which describes itself as a land investment, development and conservation company - has signed a sales agreement to purchase the 4,500-acre Hana Ranch in rural East Maui.
Guy Kaulukukui, Bio-Logical Capital's senior vice president for Hawaii initiatives, said the company plans to preserve and possibly expand the ranch's cattle operations. It also wants to look for other sustainable and diversified agricultural opportunities in Hana.
"This agreement signals the beginning of the process," Kaulukukui told The Maui News. "We'll be engaging the community and sharing our broad vision so that the community can find their place in it."
Rural Hana can be seen from atop Fagan’s Cross, named after Paul Fagan, who founded Hana Ranch in 1944 with 14,000 acres of land and a herd of cattle from Molokai. A sales agreement has been signed for the 4,500-acre ranch. A sales figure was not disclosed.
Bio-Logical Capital photo
He said Bio-Logical Capital will conduct a so-called due diligence phase to learn more about the ranch's potential and hear from the community before finalizing a sale.
"We'll be on the ground very soon, and listening more than talking," said Kaulukukui, who recently resigned as deputy director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to head Bio-Logical's Honolulu office.
No financial details were disclosed, but Hana Ranch is listed for sale for $55 million by Island Sotheby's International Realty. Owner Hana Ranch Partners originally put it on the market for $65 million in 2008.
The ranch's landholdings include more than 3,800 acres mauka of the roadway that meanders through Hana town, and another 667 acres of coastal lands. Most of the land is rolling pastures, spotted with cattle branded with the ranch's star logo.
Keiki-Pua Dancil, Bio-Logical's vice president for Hawaii, said Hana Ranch's cattle operations attracted the company.
"There are a lot of incredible natural resources out in Hana - it possesses water, which is key, it's fertile, and has a top-producing cattle operation," Dancil said. "Hana has all the components."
Dancil, who grew up in Makawao, said the company is sensitive to Hana's rural character and believes that the potential sale could help small farmers in the area.
"Right now it's an open book, but there may be opportunities to partner because we'll have the land, and maybe a farmer out there doesn't have the needed land," Dancil said. "There are some great things already going on out there," she said, noting Hana Fresh and Mahele Farms.
Kaulukukui added that the company may be able to launch new brands and help smaller farmers get their products to market.
"It'll be an economic engine. . . . I see the ranch as the mother hub, where other operations will be able to tap into and take advantage of resources that we can help put in place," he said. "A healthy Hana is the goal, but we know it has to extend beyond there to be viable."
Both Kaulukukui and Dancil acknowledge that Bio-Logical Capital is relatively new to Hawaii, but they say they're excited about the potential for Hana Ranch to help showcase what the company is about.
Bio-Logical was started by founder and Chief Executive Officer Grant McCargo.
"We are a company that's in transition of creating a leadership team in Hawaii, which makes us a local company," Kaulukukui said. "We're part of a company that has a worldwide mission of identifying 10 projects that fit into the business model."
That model is stated as part of Bio-Logical's mission, which is to make "long-term investments in projects that heal land, help people and generate revenue in the Hawaiian Islands," as well as "to help Hawaii produce healthy food, reliable water, clean energy and strong communities."
Referring to the Hana Ranch project, Kaulukukui said: "It'll be our first chance to deploy these models on the ground and show our potential."
The company also has offices in Denver and San Francisco, but Kaulukukui said its Hawaii decisions are made exclusively by the Honolulu team.
The company last year formed the joint venture Molokai Renewables with Pattern Energy to study the feasibility of developing a 200-megawatt wind farm on Molokai.
Dancil said Molokai Renewables will be responding to Hawaiian Electric Co.'s upcoming request for bids for renewable energy projects of 200 megawatts or more.
Bio-Logical stressed it will not be pursuing wind energy in Hana.
Hana Ranch, with about 1,200 head of cattle today, was founded in 1944 by Paul Fagan with 14,000 acres of land and a herd of cattle from Molokai.
State Sen. J. Kalani English, a Hana native and resident, said he sees Bio-Logical Capital as a "natural fit" for Hana.
"I believe Bio-Logical Capital's deep respect for the land, passion for thoughtful and sensitive stewardship of Hana Ranch, and willingness to contribute to the betterment of our families makes them a natural fit with my hometown of Hana," said English, who represents the district covering East Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe. "I look forward to working with Bio-Logical Capital and the entire Hana community as we strive to make Hana Ranch one of the best models for smart, sustainable ranching and farming in the nation."
* Nanea Kalani can be reached at email@example.com.