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$54M state building proposed for Wailuku

Project could have six stories of offices, five parking levels

This parking lot at the corner of Wailuku’s High and Wells streets is the proposed site of the Wailuku State Office Building 3. The lot once housed the old Wailuku Post Office. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

Citing the need to curb rent expenses, the State of Hawaii is proposing to build an approximately $54 million office building near its existing ones in Wailuku.

Wailuku State Office Building 3 could have up to six stories of offices and a five-level parking podium, including the basement, according to its draft environmental assessment published Tuesday in the state Office of Environmental Quality Control’s “The Environmental Notice.”

Proposed by the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, the state Department of Accounting and General Services and the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation, the new structure would be bounded by State Office Building 2 to the west and State Office Building 1 and Hoapili Hale courthouse to the east. It would be located on 0.425 acres of county-owned land at 70 S. High St., which was the former Wailuku Post Office. Now, the paved lot is being used for county parking.

The offices would hold about 74,000 square feet of gross floor area and the parking facility would contain 148 stalls. Area landscaping, site improvements and off-site vehicular and pedestrian facilities upgrades are also planned.

With funding approval, the third state office building in Wailuku would be built and fully occupied by 2028, according to the draft report.

Maui County employee vehicles are now parked in a lot that could be used for a new state office building

Building heights and density in Wailuku have come under fire in recent years by community members concerned about Wailuku town development.

Opposition to the Wailuku Hotel — a six-story, 156-room hotel planned for the corner of Main and Market streets — along with the county’s Wailuku Civic Complex project that included a four-story parking structure and a three-story civic center, contributed to delays in both developments.

When asked about the stories or the levels of the proposed building, the state said the project would be comparable to the county’s office building at 200 S. High Street.

“We really would prefer to stay away from indicating levels,” Joseph Earing, state Department of Accounting and General Services Public Works Division Planning Branch chief, said in an email to The Maui News. “We will be staying within the zoning height limit, and the building height will be comparable to the existing county building.”

The county’s nine-floor Kalana O Maui building is 140 feet tall. Area zoning allows for 144 feet in height, according to Maui County Code.

Earing said that for the purpose of the draft EA, the highest density option allowed by current zoning was studied. The option will provide enough off-street parking for state employees and for visitors since area street parking is an issue of community concern.

“This option is comprised up to six stories of offices and five-level parking podium including a basement level (therefore four levels of above ground parking),” he said. “The actual number of floors will be determined during the design phase.”

Earing added that floor-to floor height of a parking level is less than floor-to-floor height of an office.

In providing office space for various state agencies, Wailuku State Office Building 3 is anticipated to reduce the state accounting department’s annual lease rent charged under the State General Fund, the draft EA said.

Currently, the state accounting department is leasing about 61,000 square feet of office space in Wailuku. One projection said the State Judiciary Office on Maui will be short about 80,000 square feet of office space through 2030. Also, curtailing lease rent is a statewide initiative due to “drastic” state revenue reductions tied to the pandemic, the draft EA said.

The proposed use of county lands and state funds triggers the state-required draft EA. 

Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation received $1.5 million from the state’s Dwelling Unit Revolving Fund for environmental assessment work for the project and another Maui property. Additional money for design and construction of the third state office building will need to be approved by the state legislature. The development budget for the project is subject to funding availability and is estimated at approximately $54 million, according to the draft EA.

The proposing / determining agency is the state’s Hawaii Housing Finance Development Corporation. Contact is Sery Berhanu, (808) 587-0546, Sergut.berhanu@hawaii.gov, 677 Queen St., Suite 300, Honolulu, 96813.

The consultant is G70 on Oahu.

Comments on the draft EA are due by July 8 and should be sent to the proposing / determining agency at wailukueacomments@g70.design.

To view the full draft EA on the Wailuku state office building, visit oeqc2.doh.hawaii.gov/The_Environmental_Notice/2021-06-08-TEN.pdf.

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