County proposes buying Hanamaulu housing

HANAMAULU — If the developer of Ho‘oluana at Kohea Loa cannot sell its houses, county officials want to buy them.

“We want to make sure Kauai residents will have the first opportunity to purchase these homes,” said Mel Rapozo, council chair. “So I suggested we put something in the ordinance that would require the developer to give the county the opportunity to purchase the homes, if they cannot find buyers.”

Another draw to giving the county control over the development, which is situated at the intersections of Kuhio and Kapule highways, is selling to residents who make 120 percent of Kauai’s median income, Rapozo said.

The developer, D.R. Horton, plans to sell homes at 140 percent of the median income, beginning in the high $400,000 range.

But Rapozo said that’s too high.

“I am really struggling with 140 percent number for affordable housing,” Rapozo said. “I found myself really unable to support it.”

But D.R. Horton said they cannot sell the houses at 120 percent because they would not make a profit.

As a compromise, Rapozo hopes the county will be able to take over houses built over 16 lots in the first phase and sell them for cheaper if residents don’t buy them.

The project, which broke ground in June, is a joint effort between D.R. Horton and the County of Kauai to add to the island’s affordable housing stock.

The four-phase Kohea Loa will have a density estimated at 440 housing units. D.R. Horton will provide about 40 percent as affordable housing, with fee-simple ownership, for income groups ranging from 80 to 140 percent of the Kauai median household incomes, said Kanani Fu, County Housing Agency director.

Units sold at 80 percent of the median income will cost about $232,000, Fu said.

The amendment to Bill No. 2644, which deals with zoning of Ho‘oluana at Kohea Loa, was unanimously approved by the council Planning Committee Wednesday.

Vertical construction of the affordable housing project is expected to begin in the spring.

During the first phase of the project, 151 single-family and duplex units will be built, 20 percent of which will be affordable.

Units built in phases 2, 3 and 4 will be sold at 80 to 100 percent of the median income, Fu said.

In the second phase, 72 units will be built with 54 being affordable, said Bob Bruhl, president of D.R. Horton.

In the third phase, of the 83 units built, 38 will be affordable. And in the final phase, 70 units of the 134 will be affordable.

While an exact timeline for the project is not available, Bruhl hopes to have all of the gears in place for each of the phases so it’s ready to begin at anytime.

“The worst thing would be to start and stop,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get this to the point where there’s continuous construction over a long period of time.”

The second phase is tentatively expected to start by mid-2018 and the third phase is slated to begin at the beginning of 2020, Bruhl said.

“So at every 18 months or so, we’re starting a new phase,” he said.

Bill No. 2644 will be discussed at the full council meeting on Feb. 8.

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