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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 12, 2010

Maui housing project OK'd

By Harry Eagar
Maui News

WAILUKU, Maui It has taken six years, but Sterling Kim has gotten his final construction approvals from Maui County for phase one of his Hale Mua affordable housing project on about 200 acres mauka of Happy Valley.

Now, if he can find financing, he can go ahead, and in about two years start delivering homes, some priced as low as about $200,000, with an average for the affordable homes of about $275,000. But that would be if he gets state approval for water.

The portion of the project that consists of market-priced homes would have to carry the load with the bankers, he said. "If there's not some profit in it, they don't want to be lending."

Kim said he has had exploratory discussions with several lenders. He does not have a firm estimate on the prices for the market homes.

If he can proceed, it will put about 200 construction people to work, as well as provide housing and what he calls "social benefits" the kind of housing that would allow people such as nurses, teachers and police officers to stay on Maui instead of "taking a higher-paid position in Portland."

In August, he organized a rally in front of the Kalana O Maui Building in Wailuku to press for movement on his applications. By that time, he had gone through the Act 201-G (fast-track affordable housing) process, the Land Use Commission, the Maui Planning Commission and the County Council, but he was tied up over water.

Although the Department of Water Supply has not stopped issuing meters in central Maui, it held up his application for review. In December, the department concluded its review and signed off.