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Waikapu Country Town project set for design review

Project is north and south of the Maui Tropical Plantation

The Maui News

The next step in the government review process for the Waikapu Country Town project will be Tuesday before the Urban Design Review Board.

The board’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Planning Department Conference Room on the first floor of the Kalana Pakui Building.

The panel also will review the Keolani Triangle Retail Center project, which is seeking a special management area permit for a four-unit commercial retail space in two structures on nearly an acre at 520 Keolani Place in Kahului. The applicant is RD Olson II Investments LLC.

In January, the state Land Use Commission unanimously approved the 500-acre Waikapu project. The panel granted a state district boundary amendment from agricultural to rural for 150 acres and from agricultural to urban for 335 acres for the development north and south of the Maui Tropical Plantation.

In a phone interview Wednesday with The Maui News, project developer Mike “Coach” Atherton said he believes the project has the momentum needed to gain approvals.

“I have support,” he said. “It’s a good, smart-growth project in the right location.”

Atherton expressed some disappointment that a long-planned southward extension of Waiale Road did not make it into the fiscal 2019 Maui County budget, but he said he understood that other projects took priority.

“We’ll continue to work with everybody . . . to try to get that road built,” he said.

Plans for the Waiale Road extension would take it from its existing terminus at Waiko Road to a new intersection with Honoapiilani Highway, about a mile south of the highway’s current intersection with Waiko Road.

Atherton said plans for the roadway extension have been “on the books” for 25 years, and the project would help mitigate traffic on the makai side of the project, and it would be “good for traffic in Central Maui.”

The project’s goal is to rejuvenate Waikapu town, giving it an old plantation town feel but with new buildings, he said.

“Waikapu town’s going to be exciting,” he said.

The focus of the Urban Design Review Board will be on the project’s design guidelines.

A 122-page report on the design guidelines has been prepared for Atherton’s Waikapu Properties LLC by Planning Consultants Hawaii LLC and Hawaii Land Design LLC.

According to the report’s introduction, the master-planned project would be a “complete community” with 1,433 residential units (1,000 single-family homes and 433 multifamily units) and 146 ohana units, about 200,000 square feet of commercial and employment space, a 12-acre elementary school, parks and open space.

The development includes 1,077 acres set aside for agriculture to the south and west. Of those acres, about 800 would be protected in perpetuity for agricultural use through a conservation easement. The remaining 277 acres may be subdivided into no more than five additional agricultural lots. There are plans for limited development of solar-power farms. Hiking and biking trails also are planned.

The development has been included in the county’s urban-growth boundaries and received support from the Department of Planning. Project plans call for construction in two five-year phases through 2026.

The development’s first construction phase would be the “Village Center,” mauka of Honoapiilani Highway, with 731 residences, an elementary school, a park and 170,000 square feet of commercial areas, including restaurants and retail, and offices, industrial space and government facilities. The second phase would build 848 more homes and 6 acres of parks and open space.

The project will need to get a change of zoning and community plan amendments — first, with a review and recommendation from the Maui Planning Commission and then review and action by the Maui County Council.

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