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Budget panel moves toward buying building

The property, once acquired, would be torn down to make way for the Wailuku civic complex development

Plans for the Wailuku civic complex, a project including structure parking, county office space, community space and a specialty market, are moving ahead with the county in the process of acquiring land near the current Wailuku municipal parking lot.

On Tuesday, the County Council’s Budget and Finance Committee recommended approval of two resolutions to acquire the One Medical Plaza building at 30 North Church Street. Total cost to purchase four units in the building owned by two different owners is around $1.2 million. The resolution will need to pass the full council.

The One Medical Plaza building is located next to the Wailuku municipal lot and is not related to the One Main Plaza multistory building along Main Street. The One Medical Plaza building, once acquired, will be demolished to make way for the civic complex, said Erin Wade, small-town and redevelopment planner with the County Planning Department.

The civic complex is in the design and development phase. It was previously known as the Wailuku Parking and Events Facility. It will be located on the footprint of the current Wailuku municipal parking lot and include a multilevel parking structure and a three-story multiuse building at the corner of Vineyard and Church streets.

The project includes reconstruction of Vineyard Street, from High to Market streets, with appropriate infrastructure such as storm drains, sewer, sidewalks, street lighting and burying power poles. The same will be done for Church Street.

The cost of the project has been estimated at around $75 million by Rider Levett Bucknall, an international property and construction consultancy firm, Wade said. She added that the cost estimates were done at the end-of-concept design and schematic design phases.

A draft environmental assessment is being prepared by the Planning Department with hopes of it being published in late April, Wade said.

The Maui Redevelopment Agency will be the accepting authority for the environmental assessment. The redevelopment agency reviews applications for new development and renovation projects in the Wailuku Redevelopment Area, which covers approximately 68 acres and includes the business blocks from Central Avenue to High Street, and Wells Street to Vineyard Street.

Construction on the civic complex is expected to begin in 2019.

Wade said acquiring the medical plaza property helps make the parking concept work and that the acquisitions are one piece of the project. The project aims for people to park their cars in the complex and walk throughout town.

Church Street does not have a continuous sidewalk on its makai side. The county evaluated the properties on the block for road-widening improvements to include sidewalks and much-needed street lighting.

At the One Medical Plaza building, this would have meant acquiring 14 feet of frontage along Church Street, which would be around 15 percent of the building’s lot area, Wade said. This would significantly reduce the building’s ability for on-site parking, she added.

The county inquired with one of the owners, Dr. Gregory Park, who was interested in selling and formally listed his property, Wade said. The county would pay $597,500 for his units, one and two.

And, the county would pay $617,500 for units three and four owned by Dr. George Zakaib.

Wade said that the negotiated price for Park’s portion is between what Park’s asking price was and the appraised value.

As for Zakaib’s price, the county offered the appraised value and he declined. The county then countered with the same cost per square foot the county negotiated with Park, as for fairness, Wade said.

Wade said council members were told last year that acquiring the parcel would allow the design team greater flexibility to accommodate all of the uses desired for the three-story, multiuse building at Vineyard and Church streets.

Wade said if the purchase of the One Medical site goes through, the ground level of the site would be for vehicle ingress and egress from the parking structure along Church Street. The ground level would allow for road widening and sidewalk improvements as well as ground floor storage for the plaza, a trash enclosure, two loading zones, the generator for the complex, electrical transformer and a landscaped buffer between the project and the next-door Wailuku Executive Center.

Parking would also be constructed above the parcel, with the second level having 22 parking stalls and a third level with 20 parking stalls and a photovoltaic trellis system, Wade said.

Stellar Women’s Health Specialists is leasing a portion of the One Medical Plaza and is looking for a new space, said Jay Hopfensperger, administrator at the clinic.

He said the potential sale of the property surfaced about two weeks ago.

Hopfensperger, who is the husband of Dr. Celeste Adrian at the clinic, said there are very few spaces on Maui, let alone Wailuku, that are appropriate for a medical office.

The office needs to be in Wailuku or nearby because when Adrian, an OBGYN, is on call, she needs to quickly head to Maui Memorial Medical Center, he said.

He added that the clinic is also where Kapiolani Women’s Center from Oahu holds its High Risk Breast Program, and it hosts a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist from Oahu.

Hopfensperger said the office is getting help from insurer Hawaii Medical Service Association on finding a new office space.

Wade said county officials have told the owners they are open to working with them to accommodate their tenants’ timelines for relocation as long as the county is able to perform its environmental and soil tests at the site to include in the environmental assessment document.

The County Council will review a budget request for construction funding in March for the complex, as well as additional purchase and lease agreements relating to providing interim parking in Wailuku town, a proposal for paid parking, and a series of construction mitigation programs and tax abatements to incentivize redevelopment by the private sector, Wade said.

The project has been before the council several times for funding, and so far no member has expressed opposition to the project plans in public meetings or behind the scenes, she said.

She added there have been dozens of public comment and community outreach opportunities that several council members have attended with favorable feedback.

Oahu-based architectural firm Ferraro Choi & Associates is working on the project design.

In another matter, the county is seeking to acquire a 15,351-square-foot property for $2.35 million on the makai side of South Kihei Road near the area of the Trinity Episcopal Church by-the-sea.

The council’s Budget and Finance Committee recommended approval Tuesday of a revised bill and resolution that would acquire the property using the Open Space, Natural Resources, Cultural Resources and Scenic Views Preservation Fund.

The resolution and the bill advanced to the full council. The bill will require two readings.

Mike Moran, president of the Kihei Community Association, said that years ago, the association tried to persuade then-elected officials to buy land in the area because there was hardly any open space left. He estimated maybe there were four open lots. The rest are taken, mainly by condominiums.

And with sea-level rise, Moran said the association was concerned about building near the shoreline.

But their plea did not work.

“So it’s kind of ironic now,” Moran said of the county buying one of the “last little slivers” of land in the area.

Moran said he’s aware of some people being unhappy about the purchase, and he also wished the county had bought parcels in the area earlier. He noted the organization is “very glad something is being done here in South Maui.”

The property belongs to Home Maid Bakery, owned by Jeremy Kozuki.

Kozuki originally was selling the property to the county for nearly $2.59 million. But there was more negotiation, and the price fell to $2.35 million.

Former South Maui Council Member Don Couch, now one of Mayor Alan Arakawa’s executive assistants, said the administration has been working on getting more access to the area since Arakawa first took office.

Couch said another access the county looked at in the area was at Kulanihakoi Street, but the county would need to build a bridge over a culvert that would cost a lot more money than purchasing land.

Now, the only parking lot in the area is at Waipuilani, Couch said, with just 12 stalls.

Couch said the county will need to grade the Home Maid Bakery property to allow people to have pedestrian access and possibly provide a gravel parking area.

The parcel could be future park space, he said.

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