Already feels like home

LIHUE — When the maile lei to Kanikoo senior housing project was undone Thursday, 36 residents were already moved into their apartments at the site of the former  in Lihue.

“I am very fortunate to be one of the first residents here,” said Dennis Alpeche. “I was late on the deadline, but I went to the Building Division, who processed my paperwork. A couple of days later, I got an interview, and even had a choice of a 1- or 2-bedroom unit.”

Makani Maeva, director of Vitus Group, said it has been just a year and five days since groundbreaking for the project was celebrated at an area which was strewn with brush and grass.

The $14 million, 60-unit phase was dedicated Thursday, attended by a host of off-island dignitaries and residents. Another 24 residents are scheduled to move into their apartments starting in April to complete the occupancy of Phase I. Applicants for Rice Camp and household members must be 62 years and older to qualify for a unit. Rent includes water, sewer, trash service and electricity.

Lorisa Logan started her journey to Kanikoo in a salon where she overheard someone talking about the project. She said when she received her acceptance call, she was excited.

“The apartment is beautiful,” she said. “The price is incredible, and I thank God for this project.”

Doreen Sautner said Kanikoo feels so much like home.

“Everyone looks for reasonably priced housing,” Sautner said. “But no one wants pets. No one wants smokers. There’s so many restrictions. When I was site visiting, my unit just called to me with views of the mountains and overlooking the valley. I don’t need air conditioning because the wind blows through, and it just feels so at home.”

Doris Yamamoto, after living 55 years in a house, is adjusting to “restrictions” of living in an apartment.

“This is not like living in a house,” she said, proudly wearing a maile lei presented to her. “My son put me here and I told him I wanted the two-bedroom so I could have extra storage. I miss my plants, but the apartment is beautiful.”

Candace Onishi, wheelchair-bound, said her unit is Americans with Disabilities Act friendly.

“It has lower counters to accommodate the wheelchair,” she said. “There are grab bars, and even the closet is made to accommodate wheelchairs.”

Sadiqa Humbert is happy to have heard about Kanikoo.

“I’m glad I got old enough,” Humbert said.

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said to have residents living in the new housing project was special. 

“The name ‘Kanikoo’ comes from the sound made as the wind blows rain onto homes, similar to the sound made when canes used by seniors tap the ground as they move forward,” he said.

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