Thursday | January 19, 2017
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Project will bring 80 affordable housing units to Kaloko Heights

Three decades since it was first envisioned and four years after a new owner took over, a mixed-use development along Hina Lani Street mauka of Kaloko Business Park in West Hawaii again is moving forward.

Original plans for Kaloko Heights included 5,000 homes, a park and community center. The project has changed hands at least three times, and in 2013, was purchased by Developer RCFC Kaloko Heights LLC. The developer now is in the process of reworking the master plan to submit to the county Planning Department, owner representative Bill Moore said Monday.

The company paid to construct Hina Lani Street through the property and also the traffic signal at the junction of Hina Lani and Mamalahoa Highway, he said.

“We’ll be going to seek approval for our master plan,” Moore told the County Council Planning Committee on Wednesday, adding the road routing required a rearranging of the road network originally planned in the development.

“That changed a whole bunch of things,” he said. “We have a little more work to do.”

Another factor is a trail running through the property, he said.

“We want to honor that trail,” Moore said.

Moore was unable to provide a timeline for the work.

Developers are responsible for creating 80 affordable homes as a condition of development. That will satisfy the affordable housing component for 800 units in the first two phases of the development.

“Affordable” in this case means affordable for those of low and moderate income making less than 140 percent of the annual median income for the county as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The developers donated about 11 acres and 80 water hookups to the nonprofit Hawaii Island Community Development Corp. for the affordable housing.

“We have both the land and the water necessary to go forward,” said HICDC Executive Director Keith Kato.

The Planning Committee gave its initial approval to the affordable housing component Wednesday by agreeing to rezone the 11 acres from open to residential multi-family 3,000 square feet. The committee also agreed to exempt the property from requirements for off-street loading. The changes will be heard a final time at the County Council meeting Jan. 25 at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

“I too understand the need for affordable housing,” said North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff, whose district the project is in.

Eoff said she’s aware the current issue before the council is just a small piece of the picture.

“I understand we’re just moving along in a process with a goal,” she said.

But council members said they want to be in the loop to ensure developer promises are carried out. The developer has agreed to requests from Mayor Harry Kim to keep the promised park close to the affordable housing area, to have centrally located community centers and to ensure the roads are accessible for fire and rescue services.

“We understand what his concerns are,” Kato said. “We have no problems complying with that.”

Deputy Planning Director Daryn Arai said the department is in favor of the project.

“We are always supportive of affordable housing,“ Arai said.

Staff will be watching closely to see that the mayor’s concerns are addressed, Arai added.

“The revised master plan hasn’t been fully vetted. … There are options for us to further refine,” he said. “We know they’ve been in discussions with residents of Kaloko Heights.”

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

 

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