New campus proposal being offered
KAILUA-KONA » A West Hawaii land developer is making a new proposal that could speed the birth of a new community college campus in West Hawaii north of Kailua-Kona.
But the offer by Hiluhilu Development LLC to start the campus on 500 acres of state land depends on getting Hawaii County Council approval for a residential and commercial project on Hiluhilu's own 725 acres right next door.
The Planning Committee of the Council will consider the Hiluhilu development tomorrow, but approval is uncertain.
Hiluhilu previously proposed to build a minicampus on its own land, rent it to the state, then convert the buildings to private use when the state's permanent campus is built.
Hiluhilu's new proposal is to skip the temporary campus, said company representative Guido Giacometti.
On adjoining state land, the company would build 20,000 square feet of interior space arranged in one or two buildings, Giacometti said. That is more space than the University of Hawaii Center at West Hawaii now has, he said.
Hiluhilu is offering the beginnings of a campus on state land, which the Kona community wants, because Hiluhilu needs to get the community on its side.
A public hearing by the County Council last month showed significant opposition to its own project, called Palamanui, with 845 houses and apartment units plus business space.
"The development dramatically increases traffic in the area," said area Councilman Pete Hoffmann. That is nearly fatal where traffic on Queen Kaahumanu Highway almost halts during rush hours.
The West Hawaii university site, upland from the Keahole Airport, has been planned for 15 years. Recently, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands proposed a new site, closer to the center of Kailua-Kona.
The offer is not likely to be accepted, said Hawaii Community College Chancellor Rockne Freitas. "Clearly, the 500 acres (near the airport) is more in line with what the community was looking forward to," he said.
The regents already approved Hawaii Campus Developers LLC, a partnership of two Atlanta companies, to develop the West Hawaii campus.
Giacometti said Hiluhilu's offer of the first building or two does not conflict with the Atlanta group's role, since Hiluhilu would develop only a few acres.