San Francisco-based developers are moving ahead with plans for Downtown Kihei, a $72 million project to build a four-story, 150-room hotel, movie theater, restaurants, shops, businesses and medical offices on approximately 27 acres along Piikea Avenue just makai of the Piilani Village Shopping Center.
According to a draft environmental assessment released recently, Krausz Companies is seeking land-use entitlement approvals for the project that will straddle Piikea Avenue and be bordered to the east by Liloa Drive.
The project will not include the wetlands behind the Kihei Longs Drugs and Azeka Mauka Shopping Center, according to plans and prior statements by the developer. It is estimated that site construction will be completed in the summer of 2015, the assessment said.
The developer has been meeting with the Kihei community for several years and met with former Mayor Charmaine Tavares, who threw her support behind the project when she was in office in 2009.
County spokesman Rod Antone said Mayor Alan Arakawa's administration has not received any information, nor has it met with developers on the project.
But Council Member Don Couch, who holds the council's South Maui residency seat, said Wednesday afternoon that he supports the project that has been vetted by the Kihei Community Association for many years.
"That's exactly the type of project I know as a council member I want to see," Couch said about the developer's community outreach.
Couch said the development is in an ideal spot with other similar development around it, and he likes that the Downtown Kihei is being made as pedestrian-friendly as possible.
Couch said he liked the idea of the hotel that developers and the draft assessment said would be "marketed to families on a budget, particularly off-island, local families."
He added he was interested in the proposals he had heard about the theater that would offer a "high-end" experience, including food service and dinner tables.
The draft environmental assessment for Downtown Kihei, comes at a time when the Kihei community is already wrestling with proposed plans for an outlet mall nearby in north Kihei.
Eclipse Development Group of Irvine, Calif., is developing Maui Outlets, a planned 300,000-square-foot shopping center on a 30-acre site; and Piilani Promenade, a planned 400,000-square-foot retail complex on 68 acres. The development is proposed mauka of the Piilani Highway-Kaonoulu Street intersection.
Some residents have complained about the lack of transparency on the large-scale mall project. Couch said Eclipse didn't go to the community first with its plans.
Downtown Kihei will have 257,098 square feet of gross leasable area. It will need to seek a Kihei-Makena Community Plan amendment for an approximate 2.6-acre portion and also a variance to planning standards to allow a height of 60 feet to accommodate the 44,180-square-foot movie theater building.
Developers will need to seek a change in zoning for four parcels and a special management area use permit for at least three of the parcels.
As for impacts to surrounding land uses, the assessment said the project is not anticipated to have any adverse impact, and instead will be complementary to the surrounding land uses.
The assessment added that there are no rare or threatened or endangered species or flora that were found outside the wetlands, and no cultural practices would be affected.
No burial features or human remains were identified during the pedestrian surveys or subsurface testing at the project site, the assessment said.
Krausz is also the owner of the Piilani Village Shopping Center, which was purchased in 2003. It later bought the property mauka of the Azeka Mauka Shopping Center.
The project is being planned as a "pedestrian-oriented development," with a village square and associated promenades to encourage nonvehicular movement.
Primary access to the site will be via Piikea Avenue with secondary access via Liloa Drive.
Related improvements to the area include grading, landscaping, underground utilities, drainage facilities, lighting, vehicle parking and roadway improvements, including the reconstruction of Piikea Avenue.
The project site is vacant and undeveloped.
The draft environmental assessment can be found online at: hawaii.gov/health/environmental/oeqc/index.html by clicking on the online library of environmental assessments and impact statements. Then, click on the Maui folder, followed by the 2010 folder.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.