Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have purchased 110 acres of a former sugar plantation reservoir on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
The agricultural land includes most of the earthen Ka Loko Reservoir, which tragically dumped over 400 million gallons of water when one of its walls failed in 2006, killing seven people, including a pregnant woman.
The new land grab adds to Zuckerberg’s already sizable estate on the island, most of which lies on protected agricultural and conservation land surrounding the couple’s Hawaiian home, Ko‘olau Ranch, according to the Star-Advertiser.
Zuckerberg had previously purchased about 700 acres for $100 million in 2014 and about 600 acres for $53 million in April.
“Mark and Priscilla continue to make their home at Ko‘olau Ranch,” Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the couple, told The Star-Advertiser in a statement.
LaBolt said that the couple plans to extend farming, ranching and wildlife conservation efforts on its 1,300 acres.
Zuckerberg’s Kaloko LLC bought the reservoir property in November for $17 million from a company owned by the kamaaina Pflueger family, according to property records.
James Pflueger was deemed responsible for the 2006 tragedy for his management of the dam and served 7 months in prison in 2014 and 2015. He died in 2017 at the age of 91, according to the Star-Advertiser. The families of the seven victims settled for $25 million in 2009.
Kauai County property records show that an initial 1,272-square-foot home was built in 2017, with additions in 2019. LaBolt told the paper the couple has committed to not developing the property beyond their residence.
The tech mogul’s land purchases have been marred with controversy, with accusations that he is colonizing the island.
In 2017, Zuckerberg filed lawsuits against native Hawaiians who owned nearly a dozen tiny parcels to force them to sell their land at auction so he could “enhance” his privacy.
Residents of the rural community have criticized Zuckerberg’s giant rock walls that block views of the ocean from the area’s main road. Others have accused Zuckerberg’s security detail of harassment at public beaches, according to the Star-Advertiser.
The couple has also been praised for their charitable efforts in the region as well, including a $4.85 million donation to the island’s Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing in Waimea, Anahola and Waipouli.