Developer: Project problems hurting workers

The head of the California-based development group that wants to develop two large retail centers in Kihei expressed concern Friday over local construction workers being put out of work because his project has stalled due to a state land use decision last week.

The state Land Use Commission ruled that Eclipse Development Group’s proposed 700,000 square feet of retail space and a 250-unit affordable housing component by Honua’ula Partners violated three conditions imposed by the commission in 1995 when former landowner Kaonoulu Ranch was given a land reclassification from agricultural to urban for a light industrial development.

“I am disappointed at the decision of the SLUC and saddened at the impact on the jobs of workers who were slated to begin the grading and infrastructure work for the project. It is my hope that we can quickly come to a resolution that will put people back to work and create up to 1,800 jobs when the promenade (the retail complex) is completed,” said Douglas Gray, president and CEO of Eclipse Development Group LLC.

“Unfortunately, the economy continues to grow at a rate that is not producing enough jobs. This project, when completed, will keep the economy of Maui moving forward and help families pay for their rent and mortgages, make car payments, buy groceries, obtain medical care and meet other expenses that must be paid for every day,” he added in a written statement.

Goodfellow Bros., general contractor for site work for the project, said this week that 30 workers are already without jobs and that those workers were to be used for the retail project. The company said that 70 more workers may have to be laid off after they complete current projects since the retail project doesn’t appear to be moving forward as planned.

A meeting probably will be held in a month or two on whether the 88-acre parcel mauka of Piilani Highway in north Kihei should revert to agriculture, an LUC official said.