Monday, February 12, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, February 12, 2001

Developer scales back senior home proposal

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Bureau

KAHALA — A plan to build a retirement center on the grounds of the Star of the Sea School has been scaled back and the developer is seeking a state health facility permit.

Hearing for proposal

A public hearing will be held at 9 a.m. Feb. 23 in the State Capitol fifth floor conference room in the lt. governor’s office. For more information, call 587-0788.

The name of the proposed center is Kahala. The developer, Kahala Senior Living Community Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, had obtained approval in 1991 from the state Health Planning and Development Agency for 320 independent-living apartments, 60 assisted-living units and a nursing facility.

Now Charles Swanson, chairman of the board of directors of Kahala Senior Living Community Inc., is seeking another permit for the 60-bed nursing center. The permit is the last needed before the project can begin, Swanson said.

The proposed project would now include a 251-unit independent living apartment house, 41 assisted living suites, 21 memory support Alzheimer’s suites and 60 nursing beds. All will be built on a portion of land leased from Star of the Sea School campus. All the necessary government approvals, except for the nursing center permit are in place, according to the application.

The agency reviewing the new permit application will hold a public hearing to address issues such as costs and financing, needs and accessibility, quality of health care proposed and the relationship to existing health care services, said Marilyn Matsunaga, agency administrator.

The project was first proposed in 1989 by Episcopal Homes of Hawaii. It stalled in 1994 after $12.4 million was spent in planning and marketing.

Swanson said he has contracted with Greystone, a Texas concern that manages 44 similar facilities on the Mainland, to design, sell, market and manage the facility.

"There is a market and the project will fit the needs of the market," Swanson said.

The project has not come back before the Waialae-Kahala Neighborhood Board, said Geri Digmon, a board member representing the community where the center would be built. Initially the community did not oppose to the project, she said, because it fit in with the aging population in the area. However, there were concerns about traffic.

"I think the circumstances have changed since this was first proposed," Digmon said. "But now the market has changed and there are many options for senior housing in Hawaii Kai and in Waikiki."

Rep. Barbara Marumoto, R-17th (Kahala-Waialae Iki), said there was a need for the facility.

"It would be nice to have it in Kahala," Marumoto said. "Everyone wants to live in Kahala, and it provides revenue for the church. I’m sure there will be a whole lot of discussion on this."

Correction: Charles Swanson is chairman of the board of directors of Kahala Senior Living Community Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that is the developer of a seniors center proposed for the grounds of Star of the Sea School. The Kahala is the name of the project. A previous version of this story included incorrect information.

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