Lease extension offers more time for search

KAHULUI – Maui County will have a little more time to find a new location for its Maui Mall service center, with mall owners agreeing to a one-year extension to 2016 with an option to extend the lease into 2017, county officials told The Maui News on Monday.

Previously, the county was told its lease would end Sept. 30, 2015, prompting Mayor Alan Arakawa’s administration to seek out properties that could serve as sites for the service center. The current center at the Maui Mall includes the Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing, the Real Property Tax Division and the Treasury Collections offices.

Managing Director Keith Regan told The Maui News that the county will need the extra time to complete the Maui County Council approval process and the purchasing, planning and construction phases. He added that the county administration would like to move into its new center in late 2016 or early 2017.

Regan was one of the attendees at the council Budget and Finance Committee’s inspection of two possible sites for the service center. At least 30 people, including county administration and landowner officials and the public, attended the two site visits Monday morning.

No council committee deliberations were held Monday. The committee is expected to take up the matter July 29 in Council Chambers.

One of the sites is 5 acres at the Kehalani Village Center, bordered by Longs Drug Store and Foodland in Wailuku; the cost is $6.6 million. The owners, RCFC Kehalani, also will donate a nearby 14-acre parcel at the corner of Waiale Road and Kuikahi Drive and bordered to the west by Honoapiilani Highway.

The second site is 4 acres at Maui Business Park II along the new Hookele Street extension; the purchase price is $7 million. Landowner Alexander & Baldwin will donate nearly 36 acres in Paia south of Baldwin Beach Park as part of the deal.

County officials confirmed that the two parcels are zoned properly for the service center and have the infrastructure needed to quickly begin construction.

All four testifiers at the site visits supported purchasing the Maui Business Park site, which they say is the most convenient location for the public, and the donation of land between Baldwin and Lower Paia parks, near the Paia Youth & Cultural Center.

Wailuku resident Sally Raisbeck called the decision between the two sites a “no-brainer” and encouraged the county to buy the A&B site with the Paia parcel, which she said has “enormous value.”

Kula resident Dick Mayer concurred, saying that the Maui Business Park site is in a convenient location, where highways from South and West Maui connect into town. It is also close to the airport, which offers convenience to off-island residents flying to Maui to do business.

He added that popular stores, such as Wal-Mart, Costco and the upcoming Target, are close to the proposed service center site.

Lucienne DeNaie, representing the Sierra Club on Maui, said that the club supports the Maui Business Park purchase. She noted that the business park site has extensive roadways for easy access and is in the heart of Maui. She said the group also favors the donation of land.

“It’s really a kind of a win-win,” she said.

A&B Properties Vice President Grant Chun picked up on the central location argument, noting that the Maui Business Park site is at the “crossroads of Maui.” “We really see this . . . site as central,” he said.

He explained that the business park site is flat and made up of seven separate parcels. According to county documents, the site is bordered to the southeast by the Hookele Street extension and retention basins to the west.

The Paia land being offered is bordered by Baldwin Beach Park, Hana Highway and Lower Paia Park and land owned by the state. A portion of the site’s northwestern border is near the shoreline.

In advocating for the Kehalani Village Center site, Brian Ige of Dowling Co., the company hired by RCFC Kehalani to complete the Kehalani master development, said that the county would be able to build three buildings on the site along with parking.

In a conceptual plan drawn up by architect Hans Riecke, the county will be able to build one two-story building and two one-story buildings with a total of 50,000 square feet, according to Ige. The county’s service center at Maui Mall is about 20,000 square feet, county officials said.

A portion of the parcel is slightly elevated. In the conceptual plans, a vehicle ramp to get from one elevation to the other was offered.

When asked by Council Member Mike Victorino if traffic will increase at the nearby residential areas bordering the site, Ige said that it should not.

Existing entryways are at Waiale Road near Longs, which is away from homes, he said. Another existing entryway is through an internal road that feeds off Kuikahi Drive, county officials told The Maui News. If the county requests, a traffic signal could be placed at those entry/exit ways.

County officials have 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 and uses of the structures.

County officials have said that the Maui Mall service center needs to be moved because the new owners of the mall envision commercial uses for the space. Arakawa also has said that there is better value for the county if it builds its own center.

He has said that the county pays more than $475,000 in annual rent for the Maui Mall office space.

Representatives of mall owners, the Denver-based Alberta Development Partners and an affiliate of Chicago-based Walton Street Capital LLC, collectively known as “W-ADP,” could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

This year, the group purchased the Maui Mall from A&B, which built the shopping center.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at