Scaled-down Kukui’ula plan to state Monday

KUKUI’ULA — The joint development between Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. and DMB Associates, Inc., has entitlements allowing representatives to build 3,400 total residential and resort units on its 1,022 acres along the South Shore here.

But they won’t.

The plan for the developer, now known as Kukui’ula Development Company (Hawai’i), LLC (Limited Liability Company), is to build a maximum of 1,500 dwelling units, including only around 65 hotel rooms (entitlements allow them to build 200 hotel rooms) and between zero and 125 timeshare units (entitlements allow 700).

Still planned is an 18-hole golf course, from Tom Weiskopf Designs, and individual lots or houses and lots running from Lawa’i Bay in the west to Po’ipu Road to the east.

Development will take place from east to west, and developers plan to file a petition with the state Land Use Commission tomorrow, Monday, March 31, requesting the LUC make the last 200 acres of the project urban (it is classified agricultural now by the state), acknowledge the new entity as the petitioner, and acknowledge the reduction of density and acceleration of the development timetable, said Michael J. Roberts, vice president of both Kukui’ula Development Company (Hawai’i) and DMB Associates.

Acceleration of the development timetable means simply that the partners are in a position to move forward with the total project, in phases, which will still be in building phases in 2013, Roberts estimates.

After LUC approval, the developers will request county zoning approvals necessary to move forward with the project, with an August submittal this year that he thinks could take a year to process.

It will likely be late 2005 before any actual construction will start, and the first phase, to take two years, will include the golf course, the “resort core” of the project, and some select residential development, he said.

Timing on subsequent phases will depend on the economy, and sales of the built properties, he said.

“People still have strong feelings about this project,” both for and against it, but even those against it have voiced positive comments about Roberts and DMB being involved in the development, he said.

Lawa’i Road residents and others in the area remain concerned about construction traffic, dust and noise, as well as how the new community will impact the existing community. A myriad of community meetings has led to certain changes to the plan where community or government concerns could be addressed.

For example, county Planning Department officials and folks from the National Tropical Botanical Garden expressed concerns about homes being built overlooking Lawa’i Bay or too close to the shoreline conservation area, at the western end of the project, so golf holes replaced shoreline real estate originally tabbed for high-end homes, he explained.

Some Lawa’i Road neighbors were concerned that a planned loop road through the subdivision would mean more traffic on their street, so the developer has pitched to the county an emergency-use-only road that will keep excess traffic off Lawa’i Road and still allow for an alternative way in or out of the area during emergencies.

While possibly not starting out with that intention, Kukui’ula is evolving to be something of a model for how future large developments on the island are carefully carried out, he said.

A bypass road will run roughly parallel to Po’ipu Road, totally inside the subdivision, from an intersection at Po’ipu Road to Koloa Road, and Roberts has devised a construction-traffic plan that should mean no construction traffic will go through Koloa town proper.

A 20-acre public park is part of the plan, along Po’ipu Road between Koloa School and Kukui’ula Store, as well as 16 acres set aside for endangered, blind-spider habitat. Other lands from the developer will allow expansion of Koloa School and the county’s Pa’anau affordable-rental-housing project.

Another 10 acres near the intersection of Lawa’i and Po’ipu roads is zoned for commercial use, and the community has let the developer know they’d support some sort of commercial development on that acreage, depending on what it is, he said.

“It’s very important to us not to put existing businesses out of business. We don’t want to do that,” Roberts said of the sensitivity continued to be employed where final decisions about commercial mix are concerned.

Though at this point commercial use is not guaranteed on that site, “we’re not going to abandon it at this point,” Roberts said of the zoning.

The developer will also maintain control over the places where and types of residential development takes place, working to maximize views without impacting the land. That means some areas will have lots for sale, while others will be house-and-lot packages the developer will build.

“We’ve just gotten to know the land that much better,” by walking nearly every acre of it, he said.

Where the timeshare proposals are concerned, there is a chance that there will be none, and a chance there will be around 150 units, but no chance that the developer would build the 700 that county approvals allow them to build, he said.

It is important to the developer to have a “balanced” site, meaning that no soil has to be imported to or exported from the project. An unbalanced project would have negative impacts on neighbors, as trucks full of land would be moving in or out of the project area, he said.

“We will have a balanced project.”

Wells being developed mauka of Kaumuali’i Highway in ‘Oma’o should provide enough potable water for the entire project, and if two wells suffice for the project’s needs, A&B plans to offer the county Department of Water the option of developing a third well for public needs on that ‘Oma’o land, Roberts said.

Because of the scaled-down size of the project, the development’s wastewater treatment plant is twice the size needed to accommodate the development. So, if the county is interested, the developer is willing to allow the county to use the additional capacity.

Some $9 million in improvements is planned for the wastewater treatment plant, to produce the cleanest effluent possible, which will be used to irrigate the golf course and project landscaping. The upgrade will also include additional odor control, and landscaping and building improvements.

Fed by a mauka reservoir, an existing irrigation system formerly used to irrigate sugarcane crops where the development is planned and also now used to water Kaua’i Coffee Company crops in the area, will keep the development’s lakes full, and be used also for golf course and landscaping irrigation.

The development’s overall project budget is $400 million, not including real property taxes, marketing and other fees, a figure that Roberts has been having a hard time selling to his bosses in Arizona.

“They’re still struggling with sticker shock,” comparing the kind of project they could build in Arizona for $400 million to Kukui’ula, he said.

Richard Holtzman, president of Kukui’ula Development Company (Hawai’i), will be relocating to Kaua’i from Arizona shortly, and has a background in hotel and resort development. He is also a DMB Associates vice president.

Tom Hoen has been hired as project manager, and Roberts, 49, said he expects to hire between six and 10 additional people for the project, hoping he will be able to find qualified talent on Kaua’i or in Hawai’i.

Business Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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