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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 14, 2010

Koa Ridge aims for 'village' feel

By Harry A. Saunders III

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The state Land Use Commission will hold hearings this week on Castle & Cooke's proposed $2.2 billion Koa Ridge project, which requires the rezoning of agricultural land.

Courtesy Castle & Cooke

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Plans for the Koa Ridge project include retail space along with 5,000 homes and an “extended-stay” hotel.

Courtesy Castle & Cooke

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Creating a new community is a painstaking process involving years of planning and preparation. Castle & Cooke Hawaii has known for many years that the success of our future Koa Ridge community will depend upon the prominent involvement in its planning by people who already have chosen Central and Leeward O'ahu as their home.

Since 2003, community leaders and residents representing 47 community organizations and constituencies of the Central and Leeward O'ahu communities were invited to participate in a series of Koa Ridge planning workshops to formulate the preferred land use plan. To date, 16 workshops have been held.

While the plan has been revised over the years, the fundamental guiding principles of the community vision have remained unchanged — a pedestrian and bicycle-oriented community with a mix of uses, all planned at a density that will encourage pedestrian activity and interaction.

Koa Ridge in Central O'ahu is an infill development, between the communities of Mililani, Waipi'o and Pearl City. It is within the urban community boundary of the Central O'ahu Sustainable Communities Plan, meaning that after careful consideration of all aspects of Honolulu's long-range plans, policies and priorities, the City and County of Honolulu has determined that it is suitable for future urban growth.

Diversified agricultural activities presently on the site will relocate to suitable Dole Food Co. agricultural lands just north of Wahiawā that are currently fallow and have comparable soils, available water supply and excellent highway access. The 667 acres to be leased to Aloun Farms represent a land area twice as large as their current cultivated acreage.

At Koa Ridge, we will create a distinct, highly desirable community to meet the projected need for housing in Central O'ahu. In accordance with the city's affordable-housing guidelines, approximately 1,500 homes will be priced in the affordable range for qualified residents.

Koa Ridge is much more than housing. A major employment center will be created with a mixed-use Village Center including a grocery store, retail, restaurant, entertainment, offices and a 150-room extended-stay hotel. A 28-acre medical center complex to be developed by The Wahiawa Hospital Association may include an acute-care hospital, medical office buildings, skilled nursing complex, ambulatory care centers and related support infrastructure. The Koa Ridge Gateway includes a major commercial area that could include a big-box retailer, drug store, banks and restaurants.

We are mindful of the potential impacts on traffic. We will fund and construct needed major improvements to Ka Uka Boulevard and the Waipi'o interchange to handle traffic flow, and a new interchange will be constructed at the Pineapple Road overpass.

In addition, the mixed use, compact and walkable nature of our communities will greatly lessen the need for internal and external trips. More than 2,500 jobs will be created by the Village Center, Medical Center and Gateway commercial developments. We expect to have more than 500 senior homes — these residents are more likely to use public transportation or travel during off-peak hours — which again will lessen the impact on external roads.

Where will the new residents for our Koa Ridge communities come from? A sample profile of Mililani homebuyers revealed that 47 percent or nearly half of the buyers of our Mililani Mauka homes have come from Central O'ahu communities. We expect Koa Ridge will similarly attract buyers that already live in the surrounding area, further reducing the traffic impacts.

The project's higher density and proximity to existing and planned bus routes make it "transit-ready," giving residents more transportation options.

At the building level, we are focusing on reducing water and energy use and using sustainable materials. Community gardens and farmers markets, transportation and educational programs will be developed for homeowners, recognizing that for a community to be sustainable, residents must choose to live a sustainable lifestyle.

Our vision for Koa Ridge is building a community the way it should be built — smarter, greener and with a focus on people first.