Old Makena resort to be demolished

The Maui Planning Commission gave ATC Makena Holdings permission to demolish the old Makena Beach & Golf Resort, shown here earlier this year, without having to build a separate 76-unit boutique hotel. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

WAILUKU — The Maui Planning Commission approved amendments Tuesday to a special management area use permit to allow ATC Makena Holdings to demolish the old Makena Beach & Golf Resort hotel and no longer pursue a separate 76-unit boutique hotel at the nearly 24-acre site.

This is a change in plans. In 2014, the owners of ATC Makena were granted a special management area permit by the commission to convert the existing 310-room hotel, which closed July 1, 2016, to 50 multifamily condominium units and make other modifications.

On Tuesday, ATC Makena requested an SMA permit amendment for the changes that developer representatives said would bring the project density down from 152 to 65 units. The demolished seven-story hotel would be replaced with new low-rise, single-family and multifamily residential structures. The tallest buildings would be four stories, documents said. The initially proposed boutique hotel would be replaced with two additional multifamily buildings. The project’s construction cost would be $324.3 million, according to planning documents.

As for the changes, the developer said in Planning Department documents and on Tuesday that there were “a number of concerns” with the conversion of the existing hotel, including its age. There would be risk related to the former hotel’s structural conditions and increased costs for the conversion. The market and neighboring properties also have a desire for low-rise units.

The commission voted 5 to 1 in favor of granting the amendment to allow the changes. Commissioner Keaka Robinson voted against the measure.

Also Tuesday, ATC Makena agreed to increase its beach parking from 10 to 15 stalls after there was a request from commission member Lawrence Carnicelli to increase parking from 10 to 20 stalls.

As for his “no” vote, Robinson said he did not like the mixed architecture of the buildings at the site because some reflected a more traditional design that he favors while the design of other buildings was more contemporary, such as flat roofs. He also had concerns over the demolition of the hotel.

Commission member Larry Hudson said he was never in favor of development in Makena. But he threw his support behind the project because he saw support from longtime residents. He commended the developers for working with the people.

Carnicelli was also reluctant to support the motion but added: “I think this is an improvement by far from what it was going to be.”

While area residents support the project, Carnicelli said commission members “are here for the people who don’t live there.” 

After the meeting, Ed Divita, a partner with Discovery Land Co. which is managing the development, said: “I think it was a great result for Makena. I enjoy the strong support from the community members, and it is a milestone for us because it enables us to move forward with the implementation of the plans, which will result in additional jobs and additional economic development.”

He said it is especially important that the project received much community input.

Divita said various permits will still need to be obtained for the project to go forward with its changed plans. He estimated that the demolition of the hotel could be in the first quarter of 2018.

The hotel, previously known as the Maui Prince Hotel, opened in 1986. It was built by Japan-based developers Seibu Hawaii. From then, it underwent several ownership changes.

Divita said work began in May on some of the project components that are unchanged from the SMA-approved project. These projects are some of the beach cottages and six-plex Kula Villas.

During the project presentation, Divita said there were concerns over costs and converting the hotel into condominium units because new earthquake codes would need to met along with other issues.

As a business consideration, Divita said that having more smaller and separate buildings will allow the construction buildout to be scheduled with market demand.

He added that many of the buildings the developers included in their amendments were the same styles as those already approved in the original special management area permit.

Divita said the revised project will use less potable water — 85,000 gallons per day instead of 160,000.

He said the amended project will use 45 percent of nonpotable water from the Makena nonpotable system and 55 percent of potable water from the county system.

There will be low-impact designs, and developers will recycle materials, including concrete from the demolition of the hotel.

As for jobs, Divita said the development’s projected employment will drop from 287 to 210 employees. But he noted that the Makena hotel only employed 257.

He added that there are currently 100 employees who maintain the golf course and grounds, and there will be 145 employees working at the neighboring Makena development.

That project, separate from the one discussed Tuesday, is the $354.5 million, mixed-use Makena Resort development on the Kihei side of the hotel. This separate project will consist of 134 units, which will include 67 multifamily units, 18 single-family cottages, 26 single-family custom lots, nine transient vacation rentals and 14 condominiums. The project also allows for 27,300 square feet of commercial space. Its SMA permit was approved in July.

Divita said outside the meeting that developers are seeking permits for the mixed-use project, but they are currently working on tree clearing to ensure cultural sites are well protected before construction begins, which could happen in the next six to nine months.

At Tuesday’s meeting, longtime area resident Sam Garcia Jr. expressed his support of the amendments for the SMA, noting  he is surrounded by Makena developments on three sides of his property and is affected by any development.

“We like the newest plans,” he said.

He said Discovery has been “unbelievably open to our feeling to what we are recommending to them.”

While more than several longtime Makena residents threw their support behind the project, there were some testifiers who voiced concerns.

Lucienne de Naie testifying on behalf of the Sierra Club Maui Group and said she was not opposing the SMA amendments but questioned why her group was not made aware of the plans months ago.

De Naie said her group and others were party to legal settlements regarding the $354.5 million mixed-use project, and that is part of the reason she cannot oppose the amendment.

She was concerned about the jobs that may be lost with the changes and was concerned about public access to the area, noting that more public access would be cut off with the boutique hotel now off the table. She also was concerned about access for cultural groups to the area.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)


Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today