May | June 2012 Island Homes Collection
By Lisa Scontras | Photos by Justin R. Dotson
Buying a great piece of real estate starts with finding a great piece of land. And great is often defined by the views it offers. But why should you have to pick from an ocean view, Diamond Head view or Honolulu city lights when you can have it all? Check out the scenery from the properties of East Oahu’s Ridges neighborhoods.
What sets these hillside homes apart from the lower-elevation properties is the setting, which is often carved into the side of the mountain to maximize sweeping aerial views unlike any other.
“Many of the Ridges homes are terraced although some have gentle or steep sloped lots,” says John Peterson, Realtor at Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties. “The majority are two levels or more. Many are designed to take advantage of the trade winds, which are so abundant on the Ridges, keeping temperatures cooler than in the sea-level neighborhoods below.”
Homebuyers drawn to going vertical appreciate how romantic these elevated settings can be — the perfect vantage point to get away from it all or entertain friends. Open yet private, these architectural statements are designed to maximize the on-top-of-the-world feeling.
“Buyers want a view or tranquil setting, open areas for entertainment, vintage or custom home features as well as easy access to transportation — the bus lines or freeways,” says Peterson. “Home buyers looking on Maunalani Heights and Wilhelmina Rise are drawn by the panoramic views, cooler micro climate and mature trees in the neighborhood. Many also like the vintage homes that are prevalent in the area, some dating to the 1930s and ‘40s.”
To accommodate the unique stair-step lot configurations, the cliffside estates are designed specifically with plenty of window and split levels to enjoy the views — with amazing architecture.
“Most of the homes on Wilhelmina Rise and Maunalani Heights are custom designed as there was no general developer for the neighborhood and many were built in the 1930s and ‘40s, before track homes existed,” says Peterson. On Waialae Nui Ridges, there are floor plans that were used by the general developer Herbert Horita. Vladimir Ossipoff created some of the models for Waialae Nui Ridges and those tend to be the most sought after due to their pedigree.”
And while Ridges homes share some common features, each Ridges has a personality and flavor all its own, some of which comes from the infrastructure and amenities below. For example, Mariners Ridges sits above Hawaii Kai and Wilhelmina Rise is up from Kaimuki — vibrant communities full of restaurants and shops, and with easy access to major streets and freeways.
“Of the four eastern most Ridges neighborhoods — Waialae Iki, Hawaii Loa, Na Pali Haweo — Mariners Ridges is the most affordable, while offering comparable views of the ocean, mountains, valleys extending to Diamond Head to the west and Kaiwi Channel to the east,” says Michael R. Kwak, Realtor Associate and MBA at Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties.
“Mariners Ridges sits high above Hawaii Kai, a much desired, self-contained, residential community, where the weather is almost always sunny and the beaches (Maunalua Bay, Haunama Bay, Sandy Beach, Makapuu and Waimanalo Bay) are so very close,” says Kwak. “Ridges buyers have in common an affinity for peaceful and gracious living in a place where the air is always cool and the views are forever memorable.”
“Wilhelmina Rise and Maunalani Heights at the top, also have a club house with soccer field, tennis court and basketball courts overlooking the city and the Mau‘umae Hiking Trail is nearby,” adds Peterson. “There are three entrances up the Ridges, unlike many that have just one street from which to access the Ridges.”
Hawaii Loa Ridges and some areas of Waialae Iki Ridges have design guidelines owners must adhere to, but in the older Ridges communities, there are no building constraints, according to Peterson.
“Recently, I’ve seen homes on Wilhelmina Rise being torn down and replaced with more contemporary designs,” says Peterson.
Peterson summarizes what surprises people most about living on a Ridges as “It is convenient to most everything, the cooler micro climate and the ‘neighborhood’ feel, with people out walking and getting to know each other.”