Lanai panel OKs time extension for builder, fewer houses on tap

The Lanai Planning Commission has granted Pulama Lana’i a five-year extension to complete its Manele housing project, as well as approval to reduce the number of single-family lots from 166 to 81.

The commission voted 6-0 on Nov. 15 to approve Pulama Lana’i’s request, according to county Deputy Planning Director Michele McLean. It’s the fourth extension granted for the project since construction began in 1996.

Pulama Lana’i said it needed the extension in order to build five single-family homes and sell the other 35 lots for development.

The company received a special use permit for the project in 1995 and moved forward with construction in 1996, according to the Planning Department’s report. The project originally included 166 single-family residential lots — each larger than a half-acre — and 54 multifamily units, which was later reduced by one unit.

The 53 multifamily units already have been built. Of the single-family lots, 16 have been developed with homes, 24 have been sold but not developed and five have been removed from development. However, Pulama Lana’i only anticipates selling 40 more lots, which is why it’s now reducing the overall scope of the project, according to the report.

“Demand for luxury homes on Lanai since 2001 has been soft, which caused sales to be sluggish,” the company told The Maui News.

Pulama Lana’i believes the five-year extension will be enough to complete the development of the 40 single-family lots.

On April 16, 2003, the Lanai Planning Commission approved an extension for the project permits until April 30, 2007. On Nov. 7, 2007, the commission approved another extension, this time to Oct. 17, 2012. On Nov. 20, 2013, the commission extended the permits to Oct. 17 of this year. Pulama Lana’i applied for an extension in July.

McLean said the department supported the time extension and that “any frustrations (over the delays) would be shared by the applicant.”

“Developers will typically bring their projects to market as quickly as they can,” McLean said via email. “Delays are usually unavoidable (e.g., to meet conditions of approval or other regulatory requirements) and/or necessary for them to make the return needed to justify or satisfy the investment.”

As for the change in single-family lots, “the reduction in lots is probably realistic,” McLean said. “They can always come back and apply for approvals for more,” she said.

Pulama Lana’i said that all of the developed properties have been sold, but the company did not know how many were being occupied. The company also declined to disclose the cost of the project.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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