FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands broke ground yesterday on a 97-acre parcel in Kapolei for single-family homes and a new DHHL headquarters. At left, dignitaries used o'o in the ceremony. From left, Darrell Ing, Francis Lum, state Rep. Calvin Say, Gov. Linda Lingle, DHHL Director Micah Kane, city Councilman Todd Apo, David Hulihee, Donald Chang and the Rev. David Kaupu attended.
Home Lands project plants roots in Kapolei
The parcel will be able to support 403 single-family homes
The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands broke ground yesterday with its largest project to date, a mixed-use residential project in Leeward Oahu that will also be the new home of the department's corporate headquarters.
East Kapolei I is a 97-acre parcel that will be able to support 403 single-family homes, two commercial sites and a 4.4-acre park. DHHL has also set aside space for the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs to put up its own building.
DHHL will spend an estimated $51.7 million in on-site and off-site electrical, water, sewer, roadway and drainage improvements that will support more residential development for Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries, the University of Hawaii's West Oahu campus, D.R. Horton-Schuler Homes' Hoopili subdivision and the Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center nearby.
"So it's lifting the life of everyone in the region and the entire state," Gov. Linda Lingle said.
"So every kid that wakes up in Hawaiian Homes in this area can know at the very least, 'I can go to the University of Hawaii right there.' And take away that excuse that they can't get a good education. And that to me is priceless."
DHHL Director Micah Kane said the department hopes to get back some of the money it spends on infrastructure improvements from the entities that benefit from them. But he sees the money spent as an investment in creating a whole community for Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries living there. A critical part of the community will be a new UH West Oahu campus.
"So every kid that wakes up in Hawaiian Homes in this area can know at the very least, 'I can go to the University of Hawaii right there.' And take away that excuse that they can't get a good education. And that to me is priceless," Kane said.
The university's board of regents approved an updated long-range plan for a West Oahu campus last month that will have the first phase of the project completed in 2009 and full development by 2015.
About 100 DHHL employees are expected to move into the department's new two-story, 53,000 square-foot office building by the end of next year. That is when the leases for its offices in Downtown Honolulu expire.
DHHL will be the first full state department to make the move to Oahu's second city, and Kane said the lessons his department learns from the relocation can benefit other departments contemplating the same move.
He said being in Kapolei will put the department closer to its beneficiaries. Nearly 70 percent of the people on the wait list for a homestead on Oahu are already living on the Leeward Coast, he said.
The department will award the first 350 lots for East Kapolei I on Oct. 22 in Kekuhaupio Gymnasium on Kamehameha School's Kapalama campus.