Big Island landowner plans 940 new homes in Puna

HONOLULU (AP) — A Big Island landowner is planning to add about 940 homes to the Puna community of Keaau, an area in need of housing after lava flows destroyed hundreds of homes in neighboring areas. The state Office of Environmental Quality Control published a draft environmental assessment last week on the project by W.H. Shipman Ltd, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday. The plan calls for about 400 multifamily homes to be built in a denser environment and about 540 single-family homes in a more rural setting. The plan will about double the number of residences in the area south of Hilo, about 13 miles from where lava flowed in Leilani Estates near Pahoa following the Kilauea volcano eruption in May. The project has been in the works for several years, but it aligns with Hawaii County’s efforts for new housing in Puna. The development called Keaau Village is part of a broader 2006 master plan of Shipman land in Keaau. “We are happy to see projects like this moving forward,” said Diane Ley, director of the county’s Department of Research and Development. “Additional new affordable housing projects such as the Shipman project are expected to have a measurable impact on the displaced population.” Construction on infrastructure could begin in 18 to 24 months, depending on several county approvals required for the project, the company said. The company intends to sell the lots to contractors and developers for home construction. It plans to hold on to some control over the neighborhood aesthetic in order for it to reflect the area’s history. The company plans to develop Keaau Village in two phases, a process that could more than a decade to fully realize depending on market demand.