Pu‘unēnē Mill’s Uncertain Future

May 29, 2017

Credit Flickr / Forest Starr and Kim Starr

 

It's been a little more than five months since the last haul of a commercial sugar crop on Maui. The precise plans are still evolving for alternative crops on the land that was once used to plant sugar cane. But that's not the only question relating to big sugar-there's also a matter of hardware. We get more on the story from Colleen Uechi of the Maui News.

 

Just six months ago, the Puʻunēnē Mill was a roaring mass of machinery that shredded, squeezed and boiled cane stalk into sugar for Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.

But now that HC&S has closed for good, the mill sits quiet and empty while parent company Alexander & Baldwin decides its fate.

 

A&B has been negotiating with prospective buyers, spokesman Darren Pai said. But if no one wants the entire mill, the company will start selling pieces of it in a three-day auction starting June 20.

 

That auction would include pumps, motors, cane milling equipment and portions of the boiling house.

 

But an auction official said the iconic smokestacks that once signaled the harvest will likely not be sold.

 

The Puʻunēnē Mill was built in 1901. In December, it processed its final sugar harvest as HC&S closed down after 145 years in business. A&B is now turning the 36,000 acres of former sugar cane into diversified agriculture and ranching. The company is still discussing how to use the land and smokestacks once the mill is sold.