Land use panel OKs sale of portion of church property

Waikapu firm set to build 80 affordable housing units there

With a church member calling it a “major milestone” for Emmanuel Lutheran Church Maui, the state Land Use Commission Thursday approved six motions that allow the church to sell a portion of its Waikapu property for affordable housing and give the congregation more time to build new church facilities on the land bordered by Waiale Road and Honoapiilani Highway.

“We are all very pleased that the LUC voted to approve all of our motions so that the division and sale of a portion of the property can move forward,” said Michael Reiley, president of Emmanuel Lutheran, in an email Friday.

Emmanuel Lutheran is selling around 12.5 acres of its 25.3-acre parcel to Waikapu Development Venture, which will construct 80 affordable housing units. Emmanuel Lutheran will develop new school and church facilities on a small portion of the remainder of the property, he said.

The sale of the land will allow the church to pay off its current mortgage. Once the property is free of debt, the church will commence a fundraising campaign for the development, according to LUC documents.

The church expects the land sale to close in the next couple of months, Reiley said.

Reiley declined to disclose the selling price, and Waikapu Development Venture said in a email that it would not disclose the price until the transaction is final.

Reiley said that the church and schools, now based in Kahului on a 1.27-acre parcel on One Street, will eventually move to Waikapu.

Around 10 years ago, the church had bigger plans for the Waikapu site, including multiple school buildings and a 450-seat sanctuary. The church received a green light from the LUC in 2008 for the development, and at the same time the commission reclassified the land from Agriculture to Land Use Urban District.

But because of the recession and a decline in school enrollment, the church modified its plans, Reiley said.

Reiley couldn’t give current school enrollment numbers Friday, but said that the K-8 school has had a high of around 175 students, and as few as 120. He said that enrollment is “coming back” again, and that preschool enrollment has been steady at around 30 students.

The church on Thursday also sought and received a 10-year time extension for its project.

The LUC laid out some conditions, including having the church complete its Phases 1 and 2 of the project within six years. The first phase is for the church to secure necessary funding. The second phase is to build a multipurpose building, which is intended to house the preschool during the week and provide space for worship and other activities over the weekend.

According to project documents, Phase 3 would consist of three classrooms for the middle school, office space for the pastor and preschool director, and site work and infrastructure.

Phase 4 plans still need to be evaluated, but could consist of school classrooms and a new sanctuary building.

All work would need to be done in 10 years.

Waikapu Development Venture will develop 68 single-family detached units, 12 duplex units and a neighborhood park on its portion of the parcel. The project will be 100 percent affordable to qualified residents earning 70 to 140 percent of Maui’s median income, with half of the units priced to families earning 101 to 120 percent of the median.

Three-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family homes will range from about 1,200 to 1,800 square feet. The duplex units will have two bedrooms, one bathroom, and range from 700 to 900 square feet. Lot sizes will range from about 3,200 to 6,500 square feet and each lot will include its own parking.

Bill Frampton, the project manager, said per the county’s approval of the project through the state’s 201H fast-track affordable housing process, the homes will need to break ground by September 2020. The housing units must be completed and ready for occupancy by September 2022.

“However, we recognize that there is a critical shortage of affordable housing units, and as such, we are confident in our capable project team and great local investors and are committed to do everything in our power to finish the project before the required time lines,” Frampton said in a email.

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


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