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$4.9 million county grant sought to cover rising building costs for Kīhei housing project : Maui Now

ʻĀina Lani Pacific President Howard Kihune Jr. makes his case for $4.9 million in grant funding to cover sharply rising construction costs for the 28-home Kilohana Makai workforce housing project in Kīhei. PC: Screen grab – County of Maui live stream / Akakū

ʻĀina Lani Pacific is seeking a Maui County grant of more than $4.9 million to help pay for steeply rising construction costs projected for the developer’s 28-home Kilohana Makai project in Kīhei.

The proposal won support Monday from members of the Maui County Council Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee. Members recommended full council passage of Bill 4 on first reading.

ʻĀina Lani Pacific President Howard Kihune Jr. told committee members that construction costs for the single-family, workforce housing project have risen $5.6 million, or 31%, since 2020. In that year, construction costs were estimated at $18.12 million, but this year those projected expenses have risen to $23.73 million. Higher costs include a 30% increase for cement beginning May 1 and 20% for drywall beginning in March.

“Here we are today looking for the county’s assistance in getting this project underway,” Kihune said.

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Developers already have buyers for all the homes, including firefighters, police and construction workers, he said.

Construction is expected to take 18 months after all building and other permits are in hand, he said.

Saumalu Mataafa, deputy director of the Department of Housing and Human Concerns, said proposed grant funding for the housing project has the support of his department and the county administration.

Funding for the grant would come from the county’s Affordable Housing Fund for fiscal year 2024. Grant funding per home would amount to $176,039. (Grant request of $4,929,088 divided by 28 housing units.)

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Grant funding would be used to put electrical utilities underground; and for grading, grubbing and mass excavation, sidewalks, street lighting, drainage, water and sewer improvements, paving, fencing and walls.

The project received a change of zoning in December 2020 and a special management area permit in February 2023. A building permit application was submitted in October.

Minimum lot sizes will be 6,000 square feet, and homes will range from 2,239 to 2,841 square feet. All homes will have four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, stainless steel appliances, 9-foot-high ceilings, plantation-style roofs and covered lānai.

The 6.9-acre Kilohana Makai project site has R1 zoning, and it’s located east of South Kīhei Road, south of Ala Koa Street and north of Kilohana Drive.

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In other action, committee members recommended full council approval of:

  • $2.9 million for the Lānaʻi Youth Center and Skate Park.
  • $800,000 for improvements to the Kīhei Community Center.
  • $510,000 for improvements to the Lower Pāʻia parking lot.

Committee Chair Yuki Lei Sugimura deferred committee action on a proposed $500,000 grant to Hone Heke Corp., operator of the Expeditions Maui-Lānaʻi passenger ferry. The proposal already passed first reading on Jan. 26.

Committee members wanted to hear more about the funding request, which is for Expeditions operations and the purchase of replacement parts lost during the Aug. 8 Lahaina wildfire.

Hone Heke President Bill Caldwell said a proposed fare rate increase is pending before the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission, and an application for funding has been submitted to the Small Business Administration. Ferry operations cost $300,000 per month, including expenses for employee salaries, fuel and administration, he said.

Lānaʻi Council Member Gabe Johnson said the ferry is a “lifeline” for Lānaʻi residents who need to travel to Maui for medical appointments and other business.

Source: Maui News

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