Maui County

Maui Council OKs
$4 million land buy

A shopping center was planned
for the Harbor Village parcel

By Gary Kubota

WAILUKU >> Mayor James "Kimo" Apana has received approval from the Maui County Council for the county to buy the site of a proposed Lahaina shopping center -- once used by Hawaiian royalty as a private pond and residence.

"The big winners will be the people of Maui County, who will be able to retain and restore our heritage," Apana said.

The Council yesterday voted 8-0 to support a resolution authorizing up to $4 million to buy the 18,912-square-foot Harbor Village parcel owned by companies whose majority owners are Maui residents Terry Lee and Steven Gatchell.

Gatchell said the market price for the property was more than $4.4 million but that the two had agreed to sell it to the county for $4 million and take a loss or make a contribution of up to $400,000.

Gatchell praised Apana for taking the initiative to propose the county purchase.

"He was really the one who made a positive solution," Gatchell said.

County officials said an independent appraiser estimated the value of the property at between $4.05 million and $4.24 million as of Oct. 26, 2001.

Council members have indicated they want the county to look at using part of the parcel to put up a municipal parking lot to help to repay the purchase price. The Council also wants the county to build other parking lots, possibly on an adjacent parcel owned by the Catholic Church and another by a private group.

Lee, a Harbor Village official, said investors bought the parcel for $650,000 in 1996 and have spent about $700,000 in cash in the last six years advancing the shopping center project. He said although he would have liked to complete the project, he realizes the county's plan will make a lot of people happier.

"That makes me happy," Lee said.

Lahaina was the capital of the Hawaiian kingdom in the early 1800s, and various nonprofit groups have worked to restore remnants of historic structures, including the former Mokuhinia Pond, where Kamehameha I lived on Mokuula islet.

The pond was filled in with dirt more than 50 years ago.

Two houses used as businesses currently sit on the proposed shopping center site.

Various groups supported the purchase, including the 3,500-member West Maui Taxpayers Association and the Friends of Mokuula, a group advocating the historic restoration of the pond and island.

"In the long term, I know people will be happy with the results of all of this," said Akoni Akana, executive director of Friends of Mokuula.

Maui County

E-mail to City Desk


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