Parcel would be city land in deal
The City Council apparently will approve a deal ensuring that an affordable housing complex in Kaneohe stays affordable in the future through a proposed land swap with Kamehameha Schools.
Several City Council members praised the deal reached with Kamehameha Schools since it allows the city to purchase the property under the Kulana Nani complex for a much lower cost than its estimated value.
"We've been struggling with this Kulana Nani issue for a long time," said City Councilwoman Barbara Marshall yesterday at a Council committee meeting. "The residents are pretty excited about the latest proposal by the administration. It's the only affordable project on the Windward side."
"It's a fantastic opportunity," said Councilman Todd Apo. "I'm thankful that Kamehameha Schools is willing to do it. I think they're playing a part in affordable housing issues for this island."
Residents of the 160 apartments at 46-229 Kahuhipa St. have been on edge since the city announced last year it would sell off its affordable housing properties, beginning with Kulana Nani.
"We were concerned about them keeping it affordable," said Pam Mercado, 48, who has lived in the complex with her family for more than 20 years. "After the meeting (with the city), I could sleep again. It was a good feeling."
The city has struggled with its 12 affordable housing properties, which cost about $3.5 million a year to operate. Mayor Mufi Hannemann has decided to sell the properties while finding ways to ensure housing will remain affordable for residents for a long time.
Kamehameha Schools owns the 4.26 acres under Kulana Nani, estimated at $7.5 million, and leases the land to the city, which owns the building.
After negotiations the city would purchase the Kulana Nani land for $3.5 million in addition to swapping land in Kakaako under the tentative agreement. The city is proposing that the money come from its Affordable Housing Fund.
The city would give about 19,000 square feet of land on Ilalo Street, estimated at about $4 million in value, to Kamehameha Schools.
The city bought land in that area for a street widening project; however, some parts were unused. Kamehameha Schools plans to use the land as a part of its planned life sciences facility development, according to Paul Quintiliani, who is with Kamehameha Schools' commercial land assets division.
Quintiliani cautioned City Council members to move in a timely manner -- or else the price would go up.
If the city closes the agreement after May 2009, the price would rise to $4 million and keep increasing in the following months.
Apo, Budget Committee chairman, deferred the measure yesterday to make minor changes to the resolution's language. He assured members that changes will be made in time for the full City Council to vote on the measure in mid-March.