Affordable rentals planned for Poipu

KOLOA — A new affordable housing project in Poipu has an aggressive construction timeline.

“We’re planning to start breaking ground in January 2018,” said Paul Watase, vice president of Mark Development Inc. “Site work is anticipated to take six months, then we plan on construction of the units. And that needs to be completed before December 2019.”

The two-year project is under a strict deadline for a few reasons, but mainly because of the consequences of missing deadlines.

“Under the tax credit program, you have two years to complete the construction job,” Watase said. “If you don’t complete it, you lose credits. It’s very important that we stay on schedule.”

He anticipates people will start moving in August 2018.

Officials said prices for a one-bedroom unit could start in the $950 to $1,050 range, but also said when the housing project actually opens, those prices would be subject to change.

At a community meeting Thursday night at Koloa Neighborhood Center, about a dozen residents came to hear more about the project and share concerns.

Koa‘e will be comprised of 134 units with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The project area is located about seven miles southwest of Lihue, and less than a mile south of downtown Koloa. The site is bound by Poipu Road to the west, the Kiahuna Golf Club to the east and a residential subdivision to the north.

“Everyone can lottery into it, it’s only restricted by income,” said Kanani Fu, county director of housing. “We need pay stub verification. The main criteria is the income. Retirement, Social Security, all of that is considered income.”

Fu said income limits are effective March 31, 2018 and are subject to change.

“For this project, preference is given to the employees working in the project area and that’s going to be considered all of Poipu,” she said. “Next will be opened up to employees in the county of Kauai.”

Some questions dealt with concerns over traffic, sidewalk construction and sewage. Watase said there are plans to widen driving lanes, add a turn lane and construct sidewalks. As for sewage, he said that it will be fed to HOH’s sewer plant.

Timothy Evans, an Omao resident, was impressed with the presentation.

“I think it’s a pretty aggressive timeline,” he said. “But it sounds like the parameter that they work with so they’re going to make it happen. It seems straightforward, it seems pretty good, it seems well-planned.”

While he is supportive of the development, he has concerns over the “no pet” rules for housing.

“We have a pet, so that might exclude us,” he said. “I think a lot of people here are going to benefit from this project, though.”

Dan Seltzer, a Koloa resident who lives next door to the proposed project, said it’s too good to be true.

“What do I think? Realistically, it won’t happen,” he said. “I know construction, I’ve been in construction for a very long time and I know it won’t be built by then. I think we need affordable housing, so I’m for it. I just wish that it wasn’t going to be right next door to me.”

The timeline led to raised eyebrows, but Fu said having a strict deadline can only benefit the community.

“It holds people accountable to finish projects so we don’t have incomplete projects or projects sitting for 10 years,” she said. “This is a good thing.”

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