Sites compete for county center, offer sweeteners

Maui County’s Service Center may soon get a new home at Kehalani Village Center in Wailuku or in the Maui Business Park II in Kahului.

And depending on which site, if either, the Maui County Council chooses, there could be some bonuses in store for the county – Kehalani Village Center’s landowner, RCFC Kehalani, would donate a 14-acre parcel on the southwest side of the Longs Drugs Store in Wailuku, while Maui Business Park landowner, Alexander & Baldwin, could donate 36 acres of land extending from Baldwin Beach Park toward Paia town, ending at the park that has the basketball courts, county officials said. The A&B offer still has to undergo final board approval.

The details were laid out in a letter from Mayor Alan Arakawa to County Council Chairwoman Gladys Baisa last week. The county is trying to find a new location for its Service Center, which is now at Maui Mall, before its lease ends in 2015.

“Because both the A&B and Kehalani property deals present different opportunities, the administration respectfully requests that the council consider one or both of those offers,” Arakawa said in his letter.

He added that, during negotiations, both A&B and Kehalani began offering additional properties to entice the county to accept their offers.

The mayor’s letter and proposed bills and resolutions to acquire either of the properties are on the Maui County Council’s Friday meeting agenda, according to Office of Council Services Director David Raatz. The matter is expected to be referred to the council’s Budget and Finance Committee for review.

On Friday, Arakawa said, in an emailed statement, that both deals present good opportunities.

In Paia, the county could connect the areas as parkland or have a greenway, with both options giving people more access to the area.

“If you’ve ever passed by that area on a sunny day you’ll see how packed it gets, people even park on the side of Hana Highway just to walk to the beach.”

As for Kehalani, Arakawa said that the donated property is close to homes and stores and called it “perfect for affordable housing.”

“It’s a big decision, and we would like the council and the community to come forth with their thoughts on the matter,” Arakawa said.

The county needs to quickly find another site for the Service Center, as its lease will expire and not be renewed after Sept. 30, 2015. The center houses Division of Motor Vehicle and Licensing, Real Property Tax Division and the Treasury Collections offices.

In his State of the County address in February, Arakawa said that the county pays more than $475,000 in annual rent for the Maui Mall office space, which increases 4 percent annually. Arakawa said Friday that it would be more cost-effective for the county to have its own facility.

The county is trying to negotiate a short-term extension on the Maui Mall lease until Dec. 31, 2016, to allow for acquisition and construction of a new facility, Arakawa said in his letter to the council.

He requested to the council that the items be “considered as soon as possible as time is of the essence.”

The land the county is eyeing at the Kehalani Village Center is approximately 5 acres with a purchase price of approximately $6.6 million.

The parcel bordered by Waiale Road to the east and the Nanea and Kehalani Gardens subdivisions to the north.

The new Foodland store under construction in the area toward the west side of the property and Longs Drugs Store to the south.

The 14-acre donated parcel is a short walk from the land the county may purchase at Kehalani Village Center.

The parcel sits on the corner of Waiale Road and Kuikahi Drive. It is bordered to the west by Honoapiilani Highway.

At the Maui Business Park II, the county is seeking to purchase 4 acres for approximately $7 million.

The parcel is bordered to the southeast by the Hookele Street extension; to the west are existing retention basins. A business park road is to the north of the property.

The Paia land that A&B has proposed donating is bordered to the south by Baldwin Beach Park, to the east by Hana Highway and to the north by a park and land owned by the state. A portion of its northwestern border is near the shoreline.

County officials said that design and construction costs for a new building would be in addition to land acquisition costs and could total between $20 million and $25 million, depending on the size of the building and if there will be additional offices in the center in addition to the DMV and Real Property Tax offices.

A&B officials had no comment on the proposed land deal Friday.

But Everett Dowling, of the Dowling Co., which was hired by RCFC Kehalani to complete the Kehalani master development, said in a email that RCFC “is pleased that the County of Maui is considering the acquisition of its Kehalani Village Center parcels for their new Service Center.”

Dowling added that the Kehalani Village Center is centrally located and is a mile from Maui County’s main offices, which would make commuting for meetings and other business easy on employees and the public.

“The site is ready for development and upon acquisition the County of Maui will be able to move quickly with the development of their service center and will provide sufficient area for expansion in the future,” Dowling said in his email.

The donated parcel of 14 acres is undeveloped and currently contains temporary trailer housing for the Kehalani homeowners association offices, which would be relocated from the site if the county proceeds with its acquisition, Dowling wrote.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at