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Developer unveils 81-unit housing project for Kihei

Prices for townhouses, single-family homes start at $329,000

A rendering shows the three-bedroom, two-bathroom “Pa‘ia” single-family home model. The 81-unit Kihei Wailani project is expected to be completed by summer 2022, developer Peter Savio said Thursday. KIHEI WAILANI VILLAGE renderings

A longtime affordable housing developer is proposing an 81-unit project of single-family homes and townhouses in Kihei that’s expected to open up to the first residents early next year.

Kihei Wailani Village will be built on a roughly 12-acre vacant lot off Hoonani Street, featuring townhouses of two bedrooms and one bathroom as well as single-family homes of three bedrooms and two bathrooms or four bedrooms and two bathrooms, with prices ranging from $329,000 to $638,000.

“I did one project years ago on Maui on Kihei Road, Maui Gardens, and I’ve always wanted to do more projects on Maui,” Oahu-based developer Peter Savio told The Maui News Thursday. “So this is the first one. Hoping to do a bunch more if we’re successful.”

Savio, who owns the Maui Nui Golf Course nearby, said that he purchased the land for Kihei Wailani from the family of Roderick Fong, who spent 10 years getting the zoning and subdivision approvals for the property with plans to eventually build homes. However, after the pandemic hit, the hui that owns the land decided to sell it to Savio.

“They’re the ones who deserve a lot of the credit,” he said. “They sold it to us. And I liked it because all the hard work is done. All I have to do is get the building permits and then complete the project.”

A rendering of the two-bedroom, one bathroom “Hana Townhouse” model of the future Kihei Wailani Village development is shown. Prices for the 81-unit affordable housing project in Kihei will range from $329,000 to $638,000.

Savio said Fong and the hui are allowing him to develop the land without having to pay cost of just over $2 million upfront, saving him “thousands and thousands of dollars in interest, which comes back in the form of lower prices.” He estimated that it will cost another $40 million to $50 million to build the homes. The 100 percent affordable project will be privately funded with no government assistance, Savio said.

Once built out, Kihei Wailani will include 27 single-family homes. Each property is allowed to have up to two cottages, which are being combined into two-story townhouses, Savio explained.

Six different models ranging in size from 1,196 to 2,447 square feet will be offered, with features including wraparound lanais, enclosed garages or covered carports, indoor laundry, walk-in closets and double-vanity master bathrooms. Each model will have solar water heating, be solar electric ready, come with appliances and include a rain harvesting gutter system and rain garden.

Homes will only be sold to Maui residents, which was a requirement of the subdivision approval, according to Savio, who said he does not sell “to the open market or tourists or second homes.”

Applications are open now for the lottery process.

A map depicts the future layout of the 81-unit Kihei Wailani Village development, which will be built on a roughly 12-acre vacant lot off Hoonani Street.

Savio said he expects the first homes to be delivered in the first quarter of next year and built at a pace of 10 to 20 houses a month, completing the project by the summer of 2022.

“Houses are designed. We’re ready to go. We’re going to start our reservation list this weekend,” he said.

Savio, who’s built about 6,000 housing units on Oahu and prices his projects for as low as 20 percent of the area median income, said that “our whole philosophy is to sell at the lowest possible price.” He looks for properties that are ready to build on so he doesn’t have to pay a lot of interest. His projects “as a rule have little to no amenities only because it adds to the cost.”

Developers normally make 15 to 20 percent of the total profit; Savio said he budgets about 5 percent for contingencies but typically only breaks even or loses money. He said he’s able to do so because of the money he makes on other business ventures — he has and the fact that selling below-market rate lowers his risk and allows him to work with a lower profit, “so it’s kind of a circular argument, but it seems to satisfy my lenders.”

Savio’s projects are privately funded and don’t draw from government sources, he said.

As the president and CEO of the Savio Group of Companies, Savio owns properties that include the Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu and the old Maui Palms property in Kahului, where he hopes to start construction on a new hotel at the end of this year or early 2022, he said Thursday.

Despite the uncertainties of COVID-19, Savio didn’t think the pandemic would derail the opening of Kihei Wailani.

“I think all of those delays we’ve already gone through,” he said. “I’m an optimist. I think we’re at the end of the pandemic … so I’m very bullish going forward. I don’t see any issues or problems for us going forward.”

To view home renderings or to apply, visit kiheiwailanivillage.com.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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