Extension OK’d for old Maui Lu project

Developer given to 2027 for timeshare development

Grading work was ongoing at the old Maui Lu Resort site in Kihei in this photo taken Nov. 30. Project owner Kupono Partners has planned the 388-unit timeshare Maui Bay Villas on the site. The Maui Planning Commission on Tuesday gave the developers an extension until 2027 to complete the project. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

WAILUKU — The Maui Planning Commission granted a seven-year, 11-month time extension Tuesday to the timeshare project taking the place of the old Maui Lu Resort in Kihei.

The extension moves the completion deadline from Feb. 2, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2027, for the 388-unit project, which has changed hands and undergone major design changes over the past few years.

“Why now? Well we know we can’t complete the project by February of 2020,” said Will Beaton, development manager and representative for project owner Kupono Partners. “It is virtually impossible, and we felt it would be irresponsible to come in later to request an extension when we know now that we need until 2027 to complete the project in three phases.”

The Maui Bay Villas project calls for 388 timeshare units in 12 three-story buildings on a 27.3-acre site bordered by South Kihei Road and Kaonoulu Street. The property also would include a clubhouse, site pools, water features, a beach club and 520 parking stalls.

Kupono Partners also plans to add 12 beach parking stalls on the mauka portion of the site and a beach access path, as well as conduct a small-scale beach nourishment project along the shore.

The project’s original developer was Genesse Capital, which received a special management area permit from the commission in March 2008 after a long contested case hearing, staff planner Ann Cua said Tuesday.

Genesse received two time extensions from the commission in May 2011 and May 2014. Later that year, in August 2014, the commission approved transferring the permit to Kupono Partners, which then reworked the design by doing away with lock-off units (which can be split into separate units), eliminating 10 structures and creating more open space.

“The site was too dense,” Beaton said. “There were too many buildings on it. We wanted to open it up.”

The Planning Department approved the new design in December 2014, and construction began in February 2015. Beaton said that Kupono Partners decided to demolish the majority of the buildings because they were rundown and termite-eaten.

Kupono Partners has recently started “pre-site work” and plans to start work on the buildings in the first quarter of next year, Beaton said. The developer is looking for an extension now “to ensure that both the financial and operational viability of the project is achieved.” Beaton said it would give Kupono Partners time to find, hire and train employees; phase out the more than $400 million it expects to invest in the project; maximize the use of local contract labor; and install off-site infrastructure.

The estimated opening date of the project’s first phase is December 2020. It would include four timeshare buildings with 131 units, as well as all the support buildings on site, including the clubhouse, pool, operations building, beach club and off-site improvements.

The second phase of four buildings with 149 units is expected to start construction in September 2022 and open by August 2024. The third phase of four buildings with 108 units is expected to start construction in November 2025 and open by July 2027.

Once completed, the Maui Bay Villas would employ a total of 346 people.

In February 2015, when the Maui Lu was being torn down, Beaton said that the development would become a Hilton Grand Vacations Timeshare Resort.

Bruce U’u, who represents the Maui Chapter of the Hawaii Carpenters Union, supported the time extension because of the construction jobs it would provide and the public benefits of road work, beach parking and beach nourishment. He said the last time extension had a positive effect, allowing Kupono Partners to alter designs and open view planes.

The Kihei Community Association, however, opposed the extension.

“We believe that the project is out of touch with the current knowledge and practices of the community,” association board member Charlene Schulenburg said. “The SMA was granted originally as not appropriate to today’s conditions in Kihei. Therefore, we do not want to see the construction timeline extended without proper remedy to an extremely negative impact.”

The association was concerned about Kupono Partners installing a traffic signal at the intersection of South Kihei Road and Kaonoulu Road, a condition of the original permit. Schulenburg said a traffic signal would “ruin the beauty and flow” of the road and advocated for a roundabout instead.

Rowena Dagdag-Andaya, deputy director of Public Works, said that the department has an internal policy to consider roundabouts first, but it all depends on available space, environmental factors and issues with bridges and culverts. She explained that the site has drainage issues, and that a roundabout also would cut into nearby private properties.

Dagdag-Andaya said the department did an analysis when it learned of the association’s concerns and found that “there really is no need for a traffic signal, even a four-way stop, let alone a roundabout.” If the need arose, the department could start with a three-way stop and see how things fared before installing bigger changes like a traffic signal, she said.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the time extension because of the benefits to the beach, the jobs the project would bring and the fact that Kupono Partners had come in ahead of time.

“The concerns about the traffic for me have been resolved in that a street light, which a lot of folks do not want, is not mandatory,” commissioner Lawrence Carnicelli said.

On Tuesday that commission also approved The Krausz Cos.’ request for a six-year time extension to start construction on the Downtown Kihei project, a proposed 257,098-square-foot development of leasable space for business and medical offices, shops, a movie theater, a 150-room select services hotel and parking structure.

The developer requested an extension in March, and the commission deferred the issue in August. The decision moves the construction start date from July 5 of this year to July 18, 2024.

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


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