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Piilani Promenade is back in Land Use Commission meeting Wednesday

Controversy dates back over 20 years

The long debate over the use of 88 acres in north Kihei on which the Piilani Promenade currently is planned continues during a state Land Use Commission meeting Wednesday.

After the state approved a land use change and commercial and light industrial subdivision back in 1995, the land changed 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.

The latest proposal is to return the project to its commercial and light industrial roots.

The state LUC meeting, starting online at 9 a.m. Wednesday, will consider Piilani Promenade landowners’ request to dismiss an order to show cause because the current incarnation of their project complies with all the conditions for the land-use change. The developers are seeking continuation of the contested case process that began in 2012 after failed attempts to work out an agreement with opponents.

Efforts last year to find agreement among parties could not be reached, according to a May document from the landowners on the state LUC website.

Community opposition, led by Maui Tomorrow Foundation, South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth and Kihei resident Daniel Kanahele, has challenged the project over the years, saying it fails to meet conditions set in 1995, among other issues.

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 Piilani Promenade North and Piilani Promenade South in 2010.

Piilani 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 “megamalls” and was challenged by Maui Tomorrow Foundation, South Maui Citizens for Responsible Growth and Kihei resident 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.

Last year, Piilani Promenade North and South presented a plan to revert the land to the original commercial and light industrial subdivision concept and proposed a 7.5-acre cultural preserve around a gully and surrounding areas.

Written public testimony must be submitted 24 hours in advance of the meeting’s start time by email to dbedt.luc.web@hawaii.gov, according to the state LUC website. Online oral testimony is by reservation only through Zoom webinar virtual meeting registration-use link at us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_fEvoBLnmTJCCKPDtw1plnA.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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