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Community at a crossroads: Construction begins on the first phase of A&B’s Kamalani

Chun: The first units of affordable condos are expected to be complete by summer

Work has begun on Alexander & Baldwin’s Kamalani development in north Kihei. The infrastructure, including roads, curbs and sidewalks for the first increment of 170 affordable condo and townhouse units, is complete and work on the first phase of five buildings and 35 units has begun. This photo was taken Tuesday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Work has begun on buildings in the first phase of Alexander & Baldwin’s Kamalani project in Kihei with the first affordable units expected to be completed in the summer, an A&B official said Wednesday.

The first phase includes five buildings and 35 units, said Grant Chun, vice president of A&B Properties. Hawaii-based contractor Coastal Construction commenced work on the buildings on Feb. 21.

The construction marks the beginning of the first phase of the 170-unit first increment of the master-planned community that when built out will include 630 units. The first increment includes two- and three-bedroom condominium flats and townhomes that begin in the mid-$300,000s, the development’s website said.

The infrastructure, including grading, roadway, curbs, parking lot and sidewalk work for the entire first increment, has been completed, Chun added.

He said that the development has 27 units under contract with others in various stages of the application process.

Work on the first units in Alexander & Baldwin’s Kamalani planned community in north Kihei is underway, with completion expected during the the summer. Homes in the first increment begin at mid-$300,000, according to the Kamalani website. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

In October during a third-quarter investors call, A&B President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Benjamin made a point of saying that the company was “surprised by the slow pace of sales” of the affordable housing project, located off Mokulele Highway near the North Kihei Road junction.

At the time, A&B had 43 units for sale but only 21 units under contract.

The problem was not interest, Benjamin said, noting that there were 300 interested buyers identified through homebuyer education courses. He blamed the low number of contracts on the difficulty in buyers meeting “strict county affordable housing criteria,” though county officials said that the problem was more financial, relating to qualifying for a mortgage or coming up with the down payment.

Chun said that there is “a natural ebb and flow for projects like this.” Holidays tend to be slow the process but things pick up afterward.

“It seems to have picked up,” he said, referring to inquiries, visits by buyers and contracts.

Maui is such a small market that it’s very difficult to cite trends, Chun said.

“We will get there,” he said about securing contracts for all the units in the phase.

Benjamin said in October that A&B chose to build the increment of workforce housing first to satisfy affordable housing requirements for market-priced units at Kamalani and other A&B developments. The development of the first increment was not expected to be profitable for the company, he said.

For more information about Kamalani, contact KW Island Living at (808) 856-4045 or go to www.kamalaniliving.com.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.