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South Maui affordable housing project heading to full council

Kilohana Makai plans 28 single-family homes near Keawakapu Beach in Kihei

A Google Earth image shows the location of Kilohana Makai, a 28-unit affordable housing project proposed for South Maui. The project recently got the green light from the Maui County Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee and will head to full council soon. Aina Lani Pacific LLC images

With a green light from the Maui County Council’s Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee last month, a 28-unit workforce housing development proposed for South Maui is headed to the full council for consideration.

Committee Chairwoman Tamara Paltin said Tuesday afternoon that the item will likely be on the next council meeting agenda following the primary election.

The Kilohana Makai project, presented by workforce housing developer Aina Lani Pacific LLC and its president Howard Kihune Jr., aims to build 28 single-family homes on about 7 acres parallel to South Kihei Drive, just inland of Keawakapu Beach. Prices would range from $400,000 to about $640,000 for one- and two-story residences, each with two bedrooms and two bathrooms or four bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms.

The committee on July 16 voted (six in favor and one excused) to approve a change in zoning for the roughly 6.9 acres at South Kihei Road and Kilohana Drive from open zone to R-1 Residential District, along with 15 conditions.

Conditions include lessening the traffic burden with a second entrance and exit to and from the project by extending Wela Street to Kilohana Drive; restricting accessory dwelling units; and ensuring that each unit is owner-occupied for a period of 20 years from the unit’s initial purchase date.

Early renderings of single- and two-story affordable homes were included in a Kilohana Makai presentation in June to the Maui County Planning and Sustainable Land Use Committee by developer Aina Lani Pacific LLC President Howard Kihune Jr. The project recently got the green light from the committee, with conditions, and will head to full council soon.

“For a 28-unit, 100-percent affordable housing project, we put on a lot of conditions,” Council Member Mike Molina said prior to the vote. “There is no perfect project — you’re not going to get 100-percent satisfaction. But the only . . . (sure) thing I see out there is the need for affordable housing.”

Molina supported the developer, saying his Lahaina project has had “rave reviews.”

Aina Lani Pacific’s Kaiaulu Maui workforce housing project, which included 33 units ranging from $395,150 to $650,500, quickly sold out and broke ground in Kaanapali in 2017.

Council Member Kelly King, though, said the developer did not engage with the South Maui community, which she represents, prior to bringing the project to council. She also decried “hostile” exchanges between her office and the developer.

“This is an unprecedented project for me as a council member to have to deal with the hostility we’ve had,” King said before the vote.

“The reason why this has been so hard fought has not been because this council has been unreasonable,” she added. “What we are trying to do is hold the developer to affordable housing and not give the outs that have been given in the past to flip it into another category or go to market or to flip it after 10 years.”

The Kilohana Makai project has already generated interest, with more than 75 informal inquires, according to Kihune Jr.

Under the county’s residential workforce housing policy, Kilohana Makai homes on lot sizes that span 6,000 to 14,000 square feet, with an average of around 7,000 square feet, would be sold to residents only.

Per the rules, 30 percent of project homes would go to residents with below-moderate household income ($87,750 according to federal area median income statistics); 50 percent would go to moderate ($107,250); and 20 percent would go to above moderate ($126,750).

The project comprises 100-percent workforce housing and would net 21 housing credits, worth $25,000 each, for the developer.

Aina Lani Pacific LLC is in contract with landowners Ferreira Family Partners LP and aims to acquire the land by the end of the year.

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

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