Waianae housing project in planning
The affordable-unit complex concerns some area residents
A nonprofit organization is moving forward on an affordable-housing project in Waianae despite lack of support from some area residents and members of the Waianae Neighborhood Board.
The Hawaii Housing Development Corp. is finalizing an environmental assessment on the 216-unit affordable rental housing project called Hale Wai Vista, to be built on five acres adjacent to Waianae Mall.
Developers have submitted an application requesting exemption to put up the project at the site, which is zoned as commercial land.
"We're in the planning process," said project coordinator Gary Furuta. "We have all of our financing commitments in place."
Hale Wai Vista is designed to include five buildings: two midrise buildings and three two-story buildings. One of the three two-story buildings is slated to be a multipurpose community center, Furuta said.
Projected rents will target families earning 30 percent, 50 percent and 60 percent of the family median income in Honolulu, said planner Keith Kurahashi, of Kusao and Kurahashi Inc.
Monthly rent for two-bedroom units, about 591 square feet, will range between $481 and $733. Monthly rent for three-bedroom units, about 751 square feet, will range from $837 to $885.
Funding for the project, estimated at $70 million, was provided through the Hawaii Rental Housing Trust Fund Program, federal and state tax credits, and private organizations.
Construction is slated to start by the end of the year.
Project officials said they wanted to address the lack of affordable housing on the Leeward Coast.
Since 1999 the organization had completed several affordable-housing projects on Oahu.
But Patty Teruya, chairwoman of the Waianae Neighborhood Board, said the project does not fit in the Waianae Sustainable Communities Plan.
Board members and some area residents, Teruya said, were also concerned about the height of the midrise buildings and the location. "The location is a very poor location," she said adding that the buildings will block the view for residents in homes behind the project site.
Residents in the buildings would be able to see inside homes on Moekolu Street, said Suzy Deboma-Wandasan, one of the affected residents behind the site.
Deboma-Wandasan said she is also worried about more cars parked curbside on her already crowded roadway.
"I think we would be generating less traffic than a commercial establishment there," Furuta said.
Overcrowding at area schools, including Leihoku Elementary and Waianae Elementary, is also a concern for some area residents.
Project officials are seeking an exemption for the height limit for the two midrise buildings. Kurahashi said the height limit for the site is 40 feet. The two 60-foot buildings are slated to be located next to Waianae Mall, while the three two-story buildings will be located near residential homes.
Originally, the two midrise buildings were designed at 70 feet, but board members requested project officials to reduce the height, Kurahashi said. Still, residents want it lower than 60 feet.
"It's really difficult to develop a significant amount of affordable housing in two-story structures, especially at the rental rates that we're trying to target," he added.