State seeks partner for resort
WAILUA, Kauai » The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is looking for a partner to develop a resort or commercial property in the heavily trafficked area near the Wailua River.
The department has put out to bid a lease of 52 acres of land already zoned for commercial and resort development just mauka of Lydgate Park, between Kuhio Highway and Leho Drive, just a hundred yards south of the Wailua River.
Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Micah Kane said that any new development will have to benefit the whole community.
The commercial development will be the first of its kind because the proceeds recouped from the venture will go directly into a Hawaiian Home Lands residential development directly across Kuhio Highway.
"We are trying to vision a thriving Hawaiian community," Kane said, one that would "provide live, work, play and learn opportunities."
The department is asking for bids with a 25- to 65-year lease, with $35 million upfront and $4.6 million in annual rent, according to the request for proposals.
The $35 million will, in turn, pay for the first 200 units of the Hawaiian Homes subdivision, Kane said.
The project, which has been in the planning stages for more than three years, would allow a great many of the 1,500 Hawaiians on the Hawaiian Homes waiting list to receive a home in one of the most sought-after regions of Kauai.
Instead of waiting decades for capital to accrue for a residential project of this scale, Kane said the commercial venture would allow Hawaiians, some who have waited decades for a home, to have their own places in the next few years, instead of fighting for housing in the tight Kauai rental market.
"We are trying to relieve that pressure from Kauai families," Kane added. "We are trying to find a way to provide opportunities for families now."
Any development, Kane said, will also have to take the department's vision into account -- an "ahupuaa" environment that must have substantial employment opportunities for the residents across the highway and a sense for the culture of the area, which contains some of the most important heiau on the Garden Isle.
"We realize the (commercial) makai piece would be controversial, but we're willing to give it a shot for our beneficiaries," Kane added.