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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 14, 2001

Kihei housing proposal revived

By Christie Wilson
Neighbor Islands Editor

Japanese billionaire Gensiro Kawamoto has revived plans for a large-scale housing project on 148 acres in Kihei, Maui.

Kawamoto filed a petition with the Land Use Commission for a district boundary amendment, seeking to reclassify the land from agricultural to urban. A hearing date on the petition has not been set.

The petition estimates the project could be completed four to seven years after approval of a boundary reclassification.

"I am thoroughly convinced that I was not mistaken in my original plans for this project," Kawamoto said in a statement yesterday. "I feel that this project, consisting of a large percentage of affordable housing, is one which will be well-received by the people of Hawai'i."

The project would be mauka of Pi'ilani Highway, above Keonekai Road. Plans call for 880 housing units, with 360 single-family dwellings on 80 acres, 420 multifamily units on 35 acres, 50 housing units on five acres for the elderly, and 50 zero-lot-line units on five acres. Ten acres are set aside for a park and open space.

Kawamoto said half of the units would be reserved for affordable housing. In his Nov. 29 petition to the commission, Kawamoto said he plans to finance the entire project himself.

Kawamoto dropped plans for the development in late 1995, saying "unreasonable conditions" imposed by the Maui County Council killed the project.

In 1989, Kawamoto paid $19 million for the 148 acres near the Wailea Resort after then-Mayor Hannibal Tavares invited him to Maui to develop affordable housing.

The site was already designated for a housing project with state requirements that 51 percent of the homes be affordable. Kawamoto planned to build 1,050 homes, including a 50-unit elderly rental project and 531 affordable homes.

However, Kawamoto said county and state demands for school, sewage and other infrastructure improvements led him to abandon earlier plans when the project was known as Maui Palisades.