Committee OKs 250 affordable units in S. Kihei

Honua‘ula Partners request moves to full council for final vote

Charlie Jencks, representing Honua‘ula Partners, answers questions from members of the Maui County Council’s Land Use Committee on Wednesday. The committee recommended approval of Honua‘ula’s request to move some or all of 250 affordable units from the Kaonoulu Light Industrial Subdivision in north Kihei to the planned Honua‘ula development. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

WAILUKU – A council committee voted Wednesday in favor of allowing Honua’ula Partners to build some or all of 250 affordable housing units within its 670-acre, master-planned community south of Maui Meadows.

Honua’ula Partners had originally planned to build the affordable units in north Kihei, but because of entitlement problems with the site, the developer asked to move the housing farther south to allow homes to be built sooner.

The council Land Use Committee unanimously supported the request, which now moves on to the full council.

“The reason why this is important is because it helps get some certainty for the project and will allow us to spend some money,” owners’ representative Charlie Jencks said Wednesday. “Bankers are not too happy about giving you a lot of money when there’s a lot of uncertainty.”

The Honua’ula project is mauka of Piilani Highway and just south of Maui Meadows. Plans call for 1,150 units of on-site housing, 100,000 square feet of commercial space, golf amenities and 90 acres of parks and open space.

Traffic backs up Wednesday near the southern terminus of Piilani Highway. Undeveloped land south of the nearby Maui Meadows subdivision is slated for the 670-acre, master-planned Honua‘ula development. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Honua’ula Partners had also planned to build 250 affordable units off site at the Kaonoulu Light Industrial Subdivision in north Kihei. That was one of 30 conditions when the project received zoning approvals in 2008. At the time, Honua’ula Partners owned the subdivision and thought that because it was fully entitled, work could start on building the affordable housing before the rest of the project.

Now, however, the property is divided between two different landowners. Honua’ula Partners owns 13 acres where the affordable homes were supposed to be built. Sarofim Realty Advisors owns 75 acres, where it has proposed building the Piilani Promenade shopping complex. While the two are separate projects, legal challenges to Piilani Promenade have impacted the housing plans.

In July, the state Land Use Commission rejected a final environmental impact statement for the Piilani Promenade project. The commission wanted to see a document that took into account the impacts of both the shopping complex and the housing units. That’s why Honua’ula Partners is considering moving the housing, Jencks explained.

“This issue with state Land Use Commission and resolving entitlement issues is very uncertain,” Jencks said. “We don’t know how long it’s going to take. We would like to get something done.”

The Honua’ula development faced its own legal challenges when the Sierra Club of Hawaii and Maui Unite filed a lawsuit in October 2012 over the project’s final environmental impact statement, which the two groups said did not adequately address cultural and archaeological issues.

In October 2016, the parties signed a settlement agreement that included reducing the 18-hole golf course to a “golf amenity” and expanding protections of historical sites and native plants to 160 acres. The settlement also allowed Honua’ula to request moving the affordable housing units.

In October, the Maui Planning Commission voted 5-0 to recommend approval of Honua’ula’s request to move the units.

Building the affordable units on the 670-acre South Maui site would not change the number of permitted on-site units (1,150) or any infrastructure plans, Jencks said. The affordable housing would be provided within the multifamily or village mixed-use areas of the Honua’ula development.

Honua’ula Partners has not decided how many units it would place in north Kihei and how many in south of Maui Meadows, though Jencks said “it makes the most sense” to put all of the affordable units in the 670-acre site. Jencks said he liked the flexibility of being able to use either location, though “we may very well put all these” affordable units in master-planned community.

Honua’ula Partners first has to complete a $30 million project to widen Piilani Highway from Kilohana Drive to Wailea Ike Drive. Jencks said after the meeting that designing the project would take about a year, with another year for construction. Then Honua’ula can start the housing. Of the 250 affordable units, 125 will be ownership units and 125 will be rental units. Each unit has to have a certificate of occupancy before any market-rate units can be sold.

If any units do get built in the Kaonoulu Light Industrial Subdivision, Honua’ula Partners must also provide a minimum 2-acre park.

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


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