WAILUKU - Saying his administration already had taken steps to speed up the county's system of processing building permits, Mayor Alan Arakawa said Friday that two long-awaited commercial projects - a Marriott hotel near Kahului Airport and an expansion of the Maui Beach Hotel - are moving forward.
Arakawa said he had formed a "Permit Process Improvement Team," and that people in the construction industry already had told him it was easier to get projects through the system.
"Just ask Marriott Hotel officials, who are finally going forward with their airport hotel project that has been on hold for more than 10 years," he said, adding that Maui Beach Hotel also was restarting plans to add a new wing.
"Faster permits means more construction work, which means more jobs," Arakawa said. "It's that simple."
Arakawa's comments came during his State of the County address Friday morning in Council Chambers of the Kalana O Maui building.
Representatives of A&B, which is a partner in the airport hotel development, and of the Maui Beach Hotel, confirmed they were moving forward with projects that had been on hold for many years.
But both said Friday that they still were waiting for the county to approve their building permits.
A&B Properties Vice President Grant Chun said that the company judged it was time to move forward with the airport hotel after getting a lower cost estimate from the Marriott developer.
"The economics are more favorable now," he said. "It looks like finally the numbers are coming in line with what we had hoped. We've got the plans before the county now."
He said the plans were redesigned from a previous proposal, but most of the project's changes were interior improvements. Plans still call for a 140-room hotel located on commercially zoned land on the triangle between Keolani Place and Haleakala Highway, opposite Costco.
"The hope is (to break ground) this calendar year, for sure," he said.
Maui Beach Hotel Director of Sales Greg Peros also confirmed the hotel was moving forward with development of a new wing. Current plans call for a three-story building with 100 new rooms, a new pool area and new lobby.
Hiroshi Joke, vice president of Elleair Hawaii Inc., owner of the Maui Beach Hotel, said he could not say when the project would break ground.
"We already filed (the) new hotel wing building permits in January; so we are now proceeding," he said. "But it's not sure when we can get permits and start construction. This is not clear yet."
Reached Friday afternoon, County Communications Director Rod Antone confirmed that the projects' building permits were not approved yet, but said the permit review process was moving faster.
"Both Marriott and Maui Beach officials have met with the mayor personally earlier this month, and the county is working with them as we speak to get their permits through the system."
* Ilima Loomis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.