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Friday, April 25, 2003



State revives
Kealakehe plan

The urban development would cover
350 acres north of Kailua-Kona


KAILUA-KONA >> The state is reviving plans for urban development on 350 acres of the Kona coast at Kealakehe just north of Kailua-Kona.

The master-planned mixed-use development could include resort, commercial, industrial, recreational and marina components, a Department of Land & Natural Resources document says.

The Board of Land & Natural Resources was to discuss leasing the 350 acres to an as-yet-unselected developer at its meeting in Honolulu today.

Art Land Department Director Peter Young said three companies have shown interest:

>> Kealakehe Ahupuaa 20/20, headed by plant nursery owner Kelly Greenwell, would include digging a "lagoon" large enough to harbor cruise ships. Greenwell would relocate businesses along Kailua Bay to the banks of the new lagoon.

>> Honokohau Marina Partnership, represented in Hawaii by Vice President Chris Armstrong, has focused more on privatization of the state's existing Honokohau Small Boat Harbor.

>> A group that includes Fred Yamashiro, president of Menehune Development Co., founded in 1996 to build affordable housing, did so in an upland part of Kealakehe, not part of the current development discussion.

Menehune has been selected by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to carry out commercial development of the department's 200 acres, which adjoin the state's 350 acres.

Menehune is allied with Westrec Marinas Inc., which is also interested in privatizing Honokohau.

A report attached to the Land Board agenda indicates privatization is unlikely, saying, "Staff contemplates that the (new) marina, if any, would be managed and operated separately from the existing Honokohau Harbor, which would continue to be managed by DLNR's Division of Boating & Ocean Recreation."

But there could be pressure to change that. Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce President Scotty Bell said: "DLNR cannot sustain or take care of their harbors. There has to be a change."

Honokohau has 280 boat slips and a waiting list of 717 people, department head Young said. The envisioned marina would have 400 to 500 more.

While the recent focus has been on the harbor, the master plan concept is similar to a project that started in 1984, the ocean-to-upland development of 1,500 acres at Kealakehe.

The idea then was for a coastal resort to generate income to finance moderately priced housing in the uplands.

But a glut of West Hawaii resort approvals in the 1980s turned the community against a coastal resort, and it was abandoned in 1989. The current concept again envisions a possible resort on the coast.

And like the income generation idea of the 1980s, the current concept is "to maximize ... the returns" to the developer and the state.

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