Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Castle & Cooke
looks to Koa Ridge
for its future

A 6,100-home project will cap off
its development in Mililani

By Tim Ruel

Central Oahu home developer Castle & Cooke Inc. has unveiled a long-term vision to develop more than 6,100 new homes in the Koa Ridge area.

Castle & Cooke The company plans to cap off its 15,000-home project in Mililani, started in 1968, in the next six to eight years. It will take at least that long to obtain city approvals to develop the Koa Ridge site, so the company wants to get started now, said Harry Saunders III, president of Castle & Cooke Homes Hawaii.

"We don't know exactly what we're going to be building 10 years from now," Saunders noted in a lunchtime speech yesterday before the monthly meeting of the Hawaii Developers' Council. The company needs to get approvals for zoning, planning and subdividing.

Saunders described the Koa Ridge development as a 20- to 40-year vision for the real estate company's future on Oahu.

"I think a lot of people are wondering what Castle & Cooke is going to do next," said Vicki Gaynor, assistant vice president at competing home-builder Haseko Homes Inc.

Castle & Cooke has been building an average of 600 new homes a year for the past several decades, and is just a few years away from finishing its residential development in Royal Kunia, Saunders said.

Planning this far ahead for Koa Ridge makes sense, Gaynor said. Haseko began seeking approvals for its Ocean Pointe development in Ewa long ago. "For us, we guessed it would take about seven years," she said.

Castle & Cooke's proposed Koa Ridge project would be developed on 1,247 acres of agriculture land nestled between the existing residential developments of Mililani, Waipio by Gentry and Waikele. Castle & Cooke submitted its land use application with the city four months ago, and is waiting for approval, Saunders said.

The city, however, is opposing one portion of the development, on the mauka side, which would encompass 2,931 units on 485 acres, Saunders said. City spokeswoman Carol Costa had no immediate comment.

The long-term vision for the development is specifically targeted to aging baby boomers, who will begin to retire in a couple decades, Saunders said. The first portion could include a 210-acre medical complex, a project under review by nonprofit Dallas health-care provider Baylor Health Systems.

The whole Koa Ridge project -- if successful -- could create up to 1,600 construction jobs a year, and generate $150 million in tax revenue over the long haul, based on company projections, Saunders said.

Saunders noted a few other developments at the company's 95,000 acres of property on Oahu and Lanai, including:

>> a new train ride for visitors to its Dole Plantation in Wahiawa, which would give a 20-minute tour of different agriculture products in the field

>> a pilot program of home ownership for the company's employees on Lanai, who would receive credits for making improvements to their residences

>> a deal in the works to sell 12 acres it owns in the Iwilei industrial area, near the site of the Dole Cannery office and theater complex. Saunders declined to be specific, but Costco Wholesale Corp. has been negotiating to move its Salt Lake store to the area and is a likely candidate.

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