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DHHL looks to build homes in Central Maui

An area near Waikapu, which has been eyed for housing for more than a decade, is poised to be developed as a Hawaiian homestead project.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is working with Maui-based Dowling Co. to turn 44 acres bordered by Honoapiilani Highway and Waiolani Mauka Subdivision into housing, said Cedric Duarte, information and community relations officer for DHHL.

The project, Pu’unani Homestead Subdivision, will have 137 turnkey homes and 24 vacant lots. The project was discussed at DHHL meetings in Lahaina this week.

Duarte said Friday that an environmental assessment needs to be conducted, which will take a couple of years. Design and construction will take another two years or more so the housing could be ready in the next five or six years.

Dowling Co. has purchased the property and will convey title to DHHL in exchange for affordable housing tax credits with no money changing hands, said Duarte. Dowling also will build the subdivision and front the money for the housing, which will be leased to beneficiaries for $1 a year.

Dowling Co. did not respond to requests for comment.

The site has been proposed for housing in the past. The most recent effort was in late 2013, when Towne Development of Hawaii Inc., Endurance Investors LLC and Association of II Wai Hui LP sought to develop 450 multifamily units, retail and office space and a 15-acre park.

The developers withdrew their plans in 2017.

Prior to that effort, a rural 550-unit subdivision was proposed.

Also at this week’s meetings in Lahaina, DHHL gave an update on the Villages of Leiali’i Development in Lahaina. Currently, work is in the design phase for 1B, Duarte said. That phase will be adjacent to the already completed 1A with its 104 turnkey homes and is mauka of the Lahaina Civic Center.

An environmental assessment still needs to be completed, which will take two to three years. Planning and construction will take another four years.

The price tag for the design and construction of infrastructure, which includes water and roads, for 1B is $10 million. Duarte said water will be brought in from Honokowai.

Phase 1B will have 250 lots, with a mix of turnkey and empty lots. Duarte said beneficiaries have requested vacant lots so they can design a home to their needs.

“We are going to try and see what we can do,” he said.

Old concerns flared up at DHHL’s community meeting Monday at the Lahaina Civic Center. Attendees voiced concerns about the path of the yet to be built Lahaina bypass in the Leali’i area.

Leali’i Parkway will run between phases 1B and 1A of the development and connect the bypass to Honoapiilani Highway. Meeting attendees worried about speeding and the safety of people crossing that road.

Duarte said that the road is not owned by DHHL, but by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. and eventually will be turned over to the county. He suggested those concerned contact the state and county.

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