Changes planned for mall project in Kihei

The Texas-based landowner of a controversial 700,000-square-foot retail shopping complex in Kihei has taken over development of the project and plans to change its concept to a “mixed-use” development with business, commercial and residential uses, a representative for the project said Tuesday.

The proposed development of the Maui Outlets and Piilani Promenade shopping centers in Kihei has divided the community. In February, the state Land Use Commission deemed the projects to be in violation of conditions imposed on a former landowner in granting a land reclassification from agriculture to urban in 1995.

Eclipse Development Group on behalf of the landowners, Sarofim Realty Advisors, had proposed building the two shopping centers.

“The project (before) was almost exclusively retail. It was an outlet center,” said Charlie Jencks, a representative for the project Tuesday. “This is a different project. What we’re proposing is a mixed-use project. . . . This really, truly implements the original vision, which was a mixed-use type of project.”

Jencks estimates that the new concept for the area will have “business and commercial type uses” as well as about 200 units of housing, both affordable and market rate. Details of what the scope would be for the retail and industrial side were still being worked out but will be “consistent with available infrastructure,” Jencks said. Developers plan to have an amended development plan, which will include a full environmental impact statement, submitted by the end of this year.

Jencks and Sarofim officials met with board members of the Kihei Community Association earlier this month to discuss plans for development at the site, to listen to community concerns and to gather feedback on how to proceed with their amended plans.

Former project developers, Eclipse Development Group of California, have been out of the picture since early this year, according to Jencks.

“Eclipse was a development entity selected by the landowners, Sarofim Realty Advisors, and they have now chosen to take it on themselves and work directly with the community on the project,” Jencks said.

The project has been a bone of contention with the Kihei community for a number of years. Community groups and individuals opposed to the development have said that the planned large-scale retail center violated the light industrial development zoning conditions granted to former landowner Kaonoulu Ranch in 1995 in exchange for the reclassification of the site from agricultural to urban use. The state Land Use Commission had imposed 20 conditions on the development, including creating connector roads and developing the property as represented.

Some of those conditions were violated, according to a group of interveners – South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth, Maui Tomorrow Foundation and Kihei resident Daniel Kanahele – who challenged the development and called for a show cause hearing before the state Land Use Commission.

The commission granted the petitioner’s request, and the developers had to “show cause” as to why the land should not be reverted back to agriculture.

In February, the commission voted 6-3 that the project was in violation of several conditions placed on the parcel. The commission has not yet finalized its vote, and now the developers are asking for more time to amend their original plans to be more in line with the 1995 zoning conditions.

The developers, under entities Piilani Promenade South LLC and Piilani Promenade North LLC, filed a motion April 8 for the commission to delay final action until they have a chance to amend their project, to be filed no later than Dec. 31, according to a Land Use Commission document.

But those opposed to the project say that the case has dragged on long enough.

“We’re asking for things to be tied up. We’re asking for clarity in the (February) ruling,” Maui Tomorrow Executive Director Irene Bowie said. “The decision and order would address the public’s right to know what’s going on. . . . The thing is kind of just sitting in limbo right now.”

“It’s been four-and-a-half months since the vote was taken in early February. We want to get an order entered now,” said Mark Hyde, executive director for South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth. “We tried the case. We prevailed. That needs to be memorialized and captured.”

Hyde added that time is of the essence, especially because three of the nine commissioners who heard the case will be ending their terms at the end of next week.

“I don’t want to lose the three commissioners who heard the case and reviewed all the findings. . . . It took four days of testimony and piles of briefings. I don’t know how they (three new commissioners) could get their heads in this case,” Hyde said.

Jencks denied claims that developers were stalling in hopes of seating three new commissioners, especially considering that not all three commissioners voted in favor of the interveners.

“As a past state land use commissioner and as a landowner and representative of landowners, you don’t want to change horses in the middle of the race. You want to continue with people who know the project,” Jencks said.

He said the developers are looking forward to a favorable ruling on the delay, and that the new project, if given time to come before the commission at the end of the year, would be beneficial to the Kihei community.

“Today, if you live close to South Maui, you have to drive all the way to Kahului to get your groceries,” Jencks said. “It makes sense to have those opportunities closer to where you live,” he added.

A commission hearing on the project will be held June 27 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Haynes Meeting Room. The time for the meeting has not yet been finalized.

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* Eileen Chao can be reached at