At the end of April 1970, WW McAllister, once the Mayor of San Antonio and founder of San Antonio Building and Loan Association, sold his 3,700-acre cattle ranch to Time Wealth Corp.
Time Wealth was a business partnership that included Jack and Welcome Wilson, Jack Valenti, Bob Smith, John Goyen and Bob Marlowe. They set out to subdivide the property.
“Marlowe (an engineer) … had spent some quality time in Hawaii and was enamored of that experience that it inspired him to model this snazzy new urban development … with a Polynesian motif”. (Bastrop Advertiser, Sept 3, 2008)
Marlowe “‘had fond memories of his time in Hawaii. He used to carry a tourist’s map around with him’ in his reshaping of a central Texas cattle ranch of Loblolly pine trees and brambles into his determined vision of a South Pacific Shangri-la.” (son Robert Marlow; Bastrop Advertiser, Sep 3, 2008)
A large section of the McAllister ranch became officially called “Tahitian Village” and was platted into 7,000 or so quarter-acre lots.
One of Marlowe’s tasks was planning and naming the roads on a swath of former ranchland thirty miles southeast of Austin. “Dad came home with Hawaiian maps and guidebooks and dictionaries. He was really into it, and loved the Islands.”
Marlowe wanted to create a golf resort community along the Colorado River with a relaxed atmosphere similar to what he’d experienced in Hawai’i.
“I remember all of us sitting at the dining room table as he walked through the developer’s map, figuring where the streets would go and what he could call them.” (Robert Marlowe; Lieberman, Hana Hou)
The subdivision has more than two hundred streets with Hawaiian names. With some as long as seven syllables, the developers definitely went big, even for Texas. (Lieberman, Hana Hou)
Not long after clearing some land and grading some roads, Time Wealth sold out to the next visionary developer, Property Investments, Inc (a company out of Houston).
“In the 1970s if you had a pulse and a Texas address, you had a good chance of being chosen by land developers like Property Investments as one of the lucky winners of a swell prize.”
“They’d get these letters in the mail saying that they’d won a prize, and most of them came down here to collect their $10,000 or a new car or whatever it was.” You could claim your prize by coming out to visit a development site. People came in the hundreds.
“But almost everybody won themselves a free stay somewhere. All they had to do was get there.” (George Reinemund; Bastrop Advertiser, Sep 5, 2009)
Those who arrived to consider the opportunity and claim their prize were driven around in Broncos, Tahoes, and Suburbans; whatever could navigate the landscape over no road at all.
Despite that the actual prize awarded to prospects was unlikely to be worth the trip, each visitor got the pitch. Each was asked to imagine how Tahitian Village would look after the installation of all the amenities of a plush resort.
“On the original maps,” says Reinemund, “there were lakes. There were meant to be some 23-acre lakes and some 5-acre lakes.” Visitors with the best imaginations visualized an enviable hot spot with massive profit potential.
Sometimes prospects were enticed with a special taste of the local culture to convince them to make the investment opportunity of a lifetime.
“The Castle” was a popular eatery that was housed in the building that is now Cedar’s Mediterranean Grill.” For about $2.50, Reinemund and TC Hoffman (another Property Investments staffer) confirm, patrons could get a memorable chicken fried steak that seemed about twice the size of its platter and provided a perfect platform for a thick smothering of very tasty cream gravy.
This left prospects with a feeling of abundance and helped encouraged similar feelings toward the potential for the Tahitian Village project. (Bastrop Advertiser, Sep 5, 2009)
About 300 people a week visited the property, mostly to claim their free prizes. Then, a number of lawsuits were filed against Property Investments and Tahitian Village Corporation through the 1970s and 1980s. A Grand Jury was assembled, but there were no indictments. (Bastrop Advertiser, Sep 10, 2009)
“The fullest ·expression of Tahitian’s bright future is still down the road a ways – literally. You can’t talk about Tahitian, today or for the future, without a thorough discussion about roads.”
“They are on everyone’s mind, mainly because the water faucets work fine and road conditions are much more apparent than wastewater and fire hazards.”
“Tahitian has 70 miles of roads. Some 30-plus years after Tahitian Drive was completed, only about half are paved. That’s about a mile a year so far. At that rate, the roads should be completed around the year 2044.”
“The city and county appropriately declined to assume responsibility for maintaining poorly built roads. To residents it must have seemed like developers just whistled at the sky as they wandered off.”
“Today Tahitian homeowners want better roads, but roads require money. Money for roads comes from homeowner’s property taxes, but with 7,000 lots and only about 1,400 homes so far, there aren’t enough homes to generate the necessary taxes. New homes will continue to be built only very slowly until they can be built on nicely paved streets.” (Bastrop Advertiser, Sep 17, 2009)
“Despite myriad challenges and issues, many Tahitian Village residents say they would not change a thing. They’ve adapted to the Hawaiian street names that are so foreign to many Central Texans’ ears.”
“‘Keanahalululu,’ for example, is a warrior of legend whose name can be translated as “the-cave of roaring; as wind travelling through a cave,” according to Honolulu archaeologists T. S. Dye & Colleagues.”
“It is probably more pertinent that Keanahalululu’s name was given to a gulch on the northwest slopes of the Big Island where a tropical garden, “Pua Mau Place,” is an active tourist attraction.” (Bastrop Advertiser, Sep 17, 2009)
“Challenging names and confusion among similar-sounding streets like Upola and Upolu or Kukui and Kuikui have caused headaches for emergency responders and GPS systems for years.
A handful of street names have had to be changed to mitigate navigation problems, but most of the people in Tahitian Village appreciate the uniqueness of their community and like the street names just the way they are. (Lieberman, Hana Hou)