Agreement reached on Pi‘ilani Promenade
LUC OKs plan that returns to original concept, nixes ‘megamall’
The state Land Use Commission backed a last-minute agreement among parties Wednesday in an eight-year debate over what should be developed on an 88-acre parcel in north Kihei.
The panel unanimously voted in its online meeting to approve the stipulation and order between the parcel’s Texas-based landowners and the Maui groups challenging the Pi’ilani Promenade.
“This is not the end of the issue,” LUC Chairman Jonathan Scheuer said before the vote. “But it is where we need to go to be able to move forward collectively.”
After the state approved the land use change for a 123-lot commercial and light industrial subdivision back in 1995, the property switched hands and has since been planned for everything from a “megamall” to affordable and market-rate apartments, a senior living facility and a medical building.
After two decades of planning, tussles and hearings, the parcel will return to its original concept.
Submitted a day before the meeting, the stipulation and order approved Wednesday says that the current Pi’ilani Promenade project is in compliance with the LUC’s 1995 conditions, dismisses the order to show cause proceeding and allows the project to proceed.
The agreement formally nixes the controversial “megamall” proposed about eight years ago and a plan by Honua’ula Partners LLC for workforce housing. It also includes a conservation easement slated for 4.4 acres of the parcel.
“I think the petitioners listened to what has happened in the past, has listened to the community,” Margery S. Bronster, a lawyer for the Pi’ilani landowners, said during the meeting. “The megamall as described in the 2013 plan has been withdrawn and will not be built as outlined. That is a commitment that Pi’ilani Promenade has made.”
Community groups, led by Maui Tomorrow Foundation, South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth and Kihei resident Daniel Kanahele, have challenged the project over the years, saying it fails to meet conditions for the land-use change set in 1995. Other concerns raised included damaging archaeological sites and cultural resources, flooding and traffic worries.
Under owners Ka’ono’ulu Ranch, the 88-acre parcel mauka of Kaonoulu Street and Piilani Highway received state LUC approval in 1995 to change the land use for the parcel from agriculture to urban for a 123-lot commercial and light industrial subdivision.
In May 2005, the property was sold to Maui Industrial Partners, which later sold about 13 acres to Honua’ula Partners in 2009 and the other 75 acres to Pi’ilani Promenade North and Pi’ilani Promenade South in 2010.
Pi’ilani Promenade North and South is owned by Texas-based landowner Sarofim Realty Advisors. In 2011, Sarofim hired Eclipse Development to draw up plans for 695,000 square feet of retail space spread out across two major commercial areas.
The controversial plan became known as the “megamall” and was challenged in 2012 by Maui Tomorrow Foundation, South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth and Kanahele. In 2013, the commission ruled that the mall proposal failed to meet land-use conditions set in 1995.
Sarofim parted ways with Eclipse Development and presented a scaled-back version of the project that the commission voted down in 2017.
Within the last year, the landowners and petitioners Pi’ilani Promenade South LLC, Pi’ilani Promenade North LLC and Honoua’ula Partners LLC have said the project will revert to the original 123-unit commercial and light industrial subdivision concept.
Maui Tomorrow Foundation Executive Director Albert Perez, after the meeting, praised the community support over eight years to help the nonprofit enforce the law and “make the developers comply with the terms of their original 1995 permit.”
“This is the main outcome that we sought in 2012 when we challenged a proposed ‘megamall’ that officials told us was ‘a done deal,’ “ he said.
Although the community groups were facing dismissal from the case, Perez said they were able to come to an agreement with the developer at the last minute.
“We worked very hard and were able to come up with an agreement in the last 48 hours,” Bronster said during the meeting. “It’s been a very long and hard road to get here. But I think the parties have come together.”
Harry Lake, CEO of Koa Partners, Sarofim’s development company, said after the meeting that their team has been dedicated through the years to building “something special” for the Kihei community.
Although not the mixed-use community they had envisioned, Lake said the development will serve the local community, collaborate with cultural consultants and a local cultural practitioner on the conservation easement and invest more than $23 million in South Maui infrastructure.
“We are grateful to deliver on our commitment to start installing over $23 million of much needed improvements to enhance South Maui infrastructure and delivering local jobs when we need it most,” Lake said. “We are ‘shovel ready’ and ready to go to work.”
* Kehaulani Cerizo an be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.