Koloa affordable housing project begins

KOLOA — Imagine renting a new apartment Koloa for as little as $650 per month. 

On Thursday, Kaua‘i Housing Development Corporation will break ground on Pa‘anau Village Phase II, a 50-unit affordable housing development in Koloa. KHDC, a non-profit organization founded nearly 20 years ago to develop affordable housing on Kaua‘i, estimates construction will be completed by April 2012. 

“One of the things our board is most excited about are all the ‘green’ aspects of these apartments to help keep costs down for the residents while protecting the environment,” said Dennis Nakahara, president of KHDC’s board of directors. “All the apartments will have solar water heating, Energy Star appliances, nontoxic paint and blown-in insulation, which is a natural substance, and all the buildings have 50-year roofs.”

Pa‘anau Village will offer apartments with one, two and three bedrooms. Leases will run $650, $750 and $850, respectively, to families who earn 60 percent or less of the median income. A family of four whose income is $50,760 or less annually will qualify. An individual who earns $35,580 or less annually is eligible.

“Our entire board of directors is proud we are creating more affordable housing for Kaua‘i,” Nakahara said. “Mahalo to our development partners, including the County of Kaua‘i for leasing us the land for 63 years for a minimal fee and for contributing $2.7 million. Also mahalo to Kukui‘ula Development Co. for donating the land.”

The project site is near Koloa Elementary School and Koloa Public Library. Kaua‘i-based Shioi Construction is the general contractor, Koga Engineering will do the site work and the architect is Design Partners.

KHDC’s long-time executive director, John Frazier, said “this is the greenest, most non-toxic, energy-efficient affordable housing project ever to be built on Kaua‘i.”

All the buildings are oriented so they get natural ventilation from Kaua‘i’s tradewinds. Parking lot lights will be solar powered and the community building will have photovoltaic electricity, he said.

Frazier said thanks to good planning and budgeting, the units will also include gas cooking, washing machines and dryers in all units, ceiling fans in all rooms and storage closets on each lanai. Once completed, the complex will also have a playground and full-time grounds maintenance.

Other affordable housing projects developed by KHDC include Kalepa Village Phases II and III apartments on Kuhio Highway in Hanama‘ulu, Hale Kupuna senior townhouses in Kalaheo and the renovation of Lihu‘e Theater, now occupied as senior apartments.

The funding for Pa‘anau Village II is primarily through tax credits received by KHDC then sold to investors, Frazier said. Congress allocates tax credits to every state annually according to its population. The state then awards the credits to the organizations that rank the highest after a rigorous evaluation of their history, operations and proposal.

“Tax credits are the federal program that has produced all affordable multi-family projects in the country for the last 15 years,” Frazier said. “They supply about 80 percent of the money necessary to build these projects. We turn around and sell these credits to an investor and the investor supplies the equity.”

Nakahara and Frazier thank funding partners First Hawaiian Bank for construction financing and Wells Fargo Bank for financing the tax credits.

“It’s teamwork that allows us to create affordable housing on Kaua‘i,” said Frazier. “That’s our mission. That’s why we exist.”

KHDC’s board members are Dennis Nakahara, Tom Shigemoto, Yoshiko “Dimples” Kano, Michael Murakoshi, Roy Katsuda, Marion Penhallow, Marc Ventura and Wanda Kau-Shibata.

Applications are being taken for Pa‘anau Village II. For additional information, call John Frazier at 245-5937.

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