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Affordable apartment project breaks ground

Lahaina’s 89-unit Kaiaulu O Kupuohi slated for a May 2022 completion

Dignitaries break ground Saturday morning at the Kaiaulu O Kupuohi Apartments in Lahaina. Developed by Urban Housing Communities with managing general partner Ikaika ‘Ohana, the affordable housing project will construct 89 units on the roughly two-acre property off Kupuohi Street. Construction is scheduled to start today, with an estimated May 2022 completion. “It was a long time coming,” Maui County Council Member Tasha Kama said Saturday. “This is what Lahaina has been waiting for, for a long time: affordable housing.” The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

Hailed as a 100 percent affordable housing project that Lahaina has needed, Kaiaulu O Kupuohi Apartments land was blessed Saturday ahead of construction slated to commence today.

“It was a long time coming,” Maui County Council member Tasha Kama said during the blessing. “This is what Lahaina has been waiting for, for a long time: affordable housing.”

The $64.6 million, 89-unit apartment project for moderate to low-income families is located on two acres at 258 Kupuohi St., Lahaina, in a mixed-use neighborhood comprising residential, commercial and undeveloped land. It is scheduled for May 2022 completion.

Rents will range from $492 to $1,447, with eligibility reserved for residents who are making 30, 40 and 50 percent of the area median income, according to the project’s managing general partner Ikaika ‘Ohana, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, social service coordinator and asset management company that works with the state and private companies to develop housing. The apartments’ length of affordability is 65 years.

“The demand for workforce housing units in Hawaii is so overwhelming that I think that in and of itself makes this unique,” Douglas Bigley, Ikaika ‘Ohana director and president said Sunday.

Waiola Church Kahu Anela Rosa conducts Saturday morning’s groundbreaking blessing at the Kaiaulu O Kupuohi Apartments project in Lahaina. Rosa is wearing the robe and stole of her late uncle and former kahu at Waiola Churchc, Earl Kukahiko, who passed away in 2019.

Kaiaulu O Kupuohi Apartments’ four-story building over one-story parking will have one-, two- and three-bedroom units, along with a picnic area, community room and laundry room.

“It was necessary to build the housing over a podium to provide the necessary density and still get the open space, a community room, and barbecue space and play areas that otherwise would be used exclusively for parking,” said Bigley, adding that onsite social service programs will be offered to benefit the tenants and surrounding community.

Bigley said Ikaika ‘Ohana and Urban Housing Communities, the project’s developer, use a proprietary design team to provide the architects with design direction. 

Inspired by the “County of Maui Historic Commission Architectural Style Book for Lahaina,” the development should “look and feel a lot like historical Lahaina,” he said.

Also, the project used state-of-the-art green energy standards to become Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified.

Bigley highlighted local artwork as one of the development features.

“Our design team employs local artists to provide artwork as part of the design,” he said. “We coordinate this artwork with programs at the local elementary, middle schools, and/or high schools where the artist will also work with the kids through classes and the art will be displayed in the community room when finished.”

Goodfellow Brothers and Maryl Group are the general contractors for Kaiaulu O Kupuohi. ThirtyOne50 Management will serve as property manager.

Hunt Capital Partners, in collaboration with Ikaika ‘Ohana and Urban Housing Communities, recently announced the closing of $21.9 in federal and $8.1 million in state low-income housing tax credit equity for the new construction.

Other funding sources include the Bank of Hawai’i, which provided a $27.6 million construction loan and an $8.2 million construction to permanent loan.

Also, the Hawai’i Housing Finance and Development Corp. provided $17.1 million in Rental Housing Revolving Funds. Maui County provided a $6.4 million permanent loan. Ikaika ‘Ohana contributed a $725,952 permanent loan.

Bigley said developers will defer to the County of Maui and the property management company to set procedures on how to apply. A website will be set up to distribute information to the community far in advance of project completion, he added.

Maui County Council Member Tamara Paltin, who holds the Lahaina residency seat, touted the 100 percent affordable project.

“So grateful that the Ikaika ‘Ohana nonprofit developers are able to move forward with the development of this 100 percent affordable rental project for Lahaina,” she said Sunday.

During the blessing and groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Michael Victorino called for “aggressive legislation” to bring similar projects online.

“Let’s learn from this, make it quicker so more of them can be done,” he said. “Let’s pick up the pace.”

* Matthew Thayer contributed to this report. Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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