Mayor rejected Maui Lani option for service center

Mayor Alan Arakawa’s administration has asked the County Council to consider two options for a new site for the Maui County Service Center, but apparently there was a third choice.

Currently, the bills and resolutions awaiting a hearing before the council’s Budget and Finance Committee seek approval between two options:

* The purchase of 4 acres for $7 million at Alexander & Baldwin’s Maui Business Park II in Kahului, with a possible donation to the county of 36 acres extending from Baldwin Beach Park toward Paia town to the park near the Paia Youth & Cultural Center. The service center would be in the business park.

* The purchase of 5 acres for $6.6 million at Kehalani Village Center in Wailuku with a donation to the county of a 14-acre parcel on the southwest side of Longs Drugs Store in Wailuku by RCFC Kehalani. The service center would be in the village center.

A third offer, not presented to the council, came from Maui Lani Partners, which was prepared to sell the county a 3-acre site in its Maui Lani Village Center and to build a two-story, 24,000-square-foot building with parking, according to documents sent anonymously to The Maui News. The proposed service center lot is along Paa Street and near the Hawaii Cataract & Laser Institute.

In a letter to Arakawa in November, Maui Lani Partners said it would provide the land and the “build-to-suit” building for an estimated $14.1 million. The group was prepared to donate $500,000 in management costs to the county.

While Arakawa’s letter to the council noted that his administration did negotiate with Maui Lani Partners for a new service center site, along with A&B and RCFC Kehalani, there were no resolutions or bills to consider purchasing land at Maui Lani Village Center.

County spokesman Rod Antone said in an email Thursday that all three offers were considered.

“The county looked at all three proposals for our service center very carefully and considered all options,” he said. “There were pros and cons for all the properties and what it essentially boiled down to was price and these other gifted properties.

“Maui Lani was the most expensive at $41 per square foot while A&B was $40 per square foot and Kehalani $30 per square foot. Then A&B and Kehalani started offering extra properties at no added charge, and it was something that Maui Lani could not match.”

The county is trying to find a new location for its service center, which currently is at the Maui Mall, before its lease ends in 2015.

Dave Gleason, a partner with Maui Lani Partners, said Thursday that he was not the one who released the letter and documents. But he acknowledged that Maui Lani was “very interested” in working with the county when it made its proposal last year.

Maui Lani Partners still is willing to talk to the administration or the council about moving the service center to Maui Lani.

“We thought Maui Lani is a good place,” Gleason said, adding that the location is near the county building in Wailuku.

He said that the other offers on the table were viable and believed that Arakawa “thought long and hard” about what offers to chose.

The resolutions and bills on the service center will not be heard this month, with the council’s Budget and Finance Committee currently tackling the county budget for next fiscal year, according to committee Chairman Mike White’s office. The council has until June 10 to pass a budget, as mandated by the County Charter.

Already some community members are voicing their opinions about which site the county should choose.

The Maui Sierra Club is advocating for the Maui Business Park site so that the county can receive the Paia land. Its website asks people to list their reasons why Baldwin Beach Park should be expanded, which would occur with the land donation.

An unscientific poll on The Maui News website that began April 1 showed 62 percent in favor of the Kehalani site. The Maui Business Park site garnered 30 percent. About 9 percent said they didn’t know where the service center should be located. A total 635 people responded to the poll.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at