‘Megamalls’ replaced with housing, light industrial, some retail in Kihei

Final EIS presented for Piilani Promenade project

The final environmental impact statement has been released for the proposed 75-acre Piilani Promenade, a housing and commercial project that’s been scaled back since the Kihei community objected to original plans for two “megamalls.”

Piilani Promenade would include 226 multifamily apartments; 58,000 square feet of light industrial space; and retail, office and business/commercial development limited to 530,000 square feet. Plans also call for bicycle and pedestrian pathways, a public park and public/quasi-public uses such as a Maui Electric Co. substation to meet the electrical needs of the project and Kihei.

Located mauka of the intersection of Kaonoulu Road and Piilani Highway, the project site would be bordered by the Kihei Commercial Center to the north and Kulanihakoi Gulch to the south.

Texas-based landowner Sarofim Realty Advisors modified its plans after residents and the state Land Use Commission halted a proposal for two large outlet malls in the same location.

In 2011, Eclipse Development — hired by Sarofim — drew up plans for 695,000 square feet of retail space, with two major commercial areas separated by paved parking lots.

Kihei residents criticized the project, saying that the community hadn’t been consulted and that the project did not fit the Kihei-Makena Community Plan or the conditions of the land’s urban zoning. Maui Tomorrow Foundation, South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth and Kihei resident Daniel Kanahele filed appeals with the county and state.

In 2013, the LUC ruled that the mall proposal failed to meet conditions set in 1995, when the commission had reclassified the land from agricultural to urban. However, the commission granted developers’ request to change their plans before issuing a formal decision and order.

Now, Eclipse Development is no longer involved, according to the final EIS. And while Sarofim may have scaled back, residents are still concerned. While some think it would expand shopping, housing and job opportunities, they still worry about how a mall larger than the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center would impact traffic, drainage and local retailers.

“Your business is to build malls. But why Kihei?” Kihei resident Gylian Solay wrote in response to the draft EIS released in 2014. “30,000 people, a small beach community. We aren’t large enough to handle the magnitude of the mall and all the repercussions you are proposing.”

In an October 2014 letter, the Kihei Community Association pointed out that South Maui has nearly 750,000 square feet of commercial space with another 336,000 square feet on the way. Piilani Promenade would create “well beyond” what the community could support.

Jordan Hart, president of project consultant Chris Hart & Partners, said in a letter published in the final EIS that the project aims to provide uses “for local Maui residents as an alternative shopping destination to Kahului.”

“It is not intended to be directly competitive with the majority of stores along South Kihei Road, which attract large numbers of visitors as their primary patrons,” Hart wrote, adding that Sarofim expects visitors to be a minority of its shoppers.

Sarofim believes the project will provide for the regional needs of South Maui. While a 2014 inventory by The Hallstrom Group found that about 10 percent of Kihei retail space is empty, “the vacancies were either restaurant spaces (the least stable sector of the market) or in uncompetitive projects or locations,” Hart wrote.

The full project would need an estimated 171,000 gallons per day for drinking water and 81,000 gallons a day for irrigation. Plans call for the project to be connected to the existing county water system to meet drinking needs. Sarofim also agreed to build a water storage tank at the request of the county Department of Water Supply.

Surface runoff from the project will be directed to drain inlets throughout the development and then sent to stormwater detention facilities, including underground chambers on the project’s southern portion and an open pond in the project’s northern portion. After construction of the promenade and storm detention facilities, peak flow is expected to be the same as before, according to the EIS.

Per county requirements, 25 percent of the housing units (57 units) would be rented at affordable rates.

Construction would be split into three phases. The first phase would include more than $22 million in improvements to water, sewer, roads, drainage, electrical and other infrastructure, as well as construction of a 1-million-gallon drinking water tank. Phases 2 and 3 would cover construction of the apartments, light industrial and business/commercial uses at a cost of nearly $192.3 million.

The final EIS has been released for early distribution to the public, though a May 18 Land Use Commission meeting on Maui to discuss the EIS has been canceled, Hart said Tuesday. Developers are working to get the documents published on the state’s Office of Environmental Quality Control website and to reschedule a meeting with the commission.

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


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