Large Kauai
resort gets OK

The Kukuiula hotel and residential
plan now goes to the mayor

LIHUE » Kukuiula, the largest planned community to be built by a single developer on Kauai, has won unanimous approval from the County Council.

After two years in the state and county permitting process, the developer now needs only the signature of Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste on the two bills passed Thursday. Baptiste is expected to sign both.

The Kukuiula residential, resort and commercial project will be built on 1,002 acres of former McBryde Sugar Co. land by Kukui'ula Development Co. (Hawaii) LLC, a partnership between Alexander & Baldwin and DMB Associates, a Scottsdale, Ariz., development company. Lot prices are expected to start near $1 million, and the first homes are expected to be ready for occupancy in 2007.

The project was whittled considerably to mollify residents of Poipu, Lawai and Koloa, some of whom still are wary of the development's effect on traffic and use of recreational areas.

The project, first conceived in 1968, has been among the most controversial in Kauai's history and has undergone a series of makeovers.

In the first plan, Kukuiula was intended to be a residential area for local residents, with 4,538 housing units. It originally was to be built only by A&B. In 1989, then-Mayor JoAnn Yukimura vetoed the bill giving the project an exemption to the County General Plan. The Council overrode her veto.

But with the state's economic downturn in the early 1990s and Hurricane Iniki in 1992, the plan went nowhere.

It was revived in the late 1990s with a heavier emphasis on resort development. In 1999 the County Council passed a new ordinance calling for only 3,400 homes and allowing 200 hotel rooms and 900 vacation rentals -- either houses or condominiums.

But by the time the project was changed, the housing boom on Kauai had begun, and A&B partnered with DMB Associates on another new plan, this time putting the emphasis on high-end homes.

The 1999 plan was unpopular with South Shore residents, and the newly formed Kukui'ula Development Co. repeatedly sliced chunks off it to appease the Kauai Planning Commission.

When the Planning Commission passed it on to the County Council, even more trimming was required. The Council went through nine committee meetings, hammering out a compromise.

The version passed Thursday calls for 1,500 residential units, 64 hotel rooms and 750 vacation rentals, most expected to be condominiums. It adds a number of deadlines that were not spelled out in the 1999 ordinance. It also required the developer to build 75 affordable homes for employees.

Council Chairman Kaipo Asing pointed out at Thursday's meeting that it was "either a yes or a no proposition."

"If we say yes, we get this," he said, pointing to a chart showing the new plan with 1,500 homes. "If we say no, this is what happens," he said, pointing to a chart showing the existing 1999 ordinance allowing 3,400 homes.

Yukimura, who is a councilwoman, said she was voting yes on the new version only because it is smaller than the old plan and because it adds employee housing. She said she does not like the 750 vacation rentals, but it is smaller than the 900 now on the books.

Yukimura said vacation rentals throughout the island are a major factor in Kauai's severe shortage of middle-income housing.

"Damage control, that's what it was," said Councilman Mel Rapozo. "The last time the Council voted on this, I don't think they really knew what their plan would do."

Princeville, on Kauai's North Shore, will remain the island's largest planned community with 9,000 acres, compared with Kukuiula's 1,002 acres. But Princeville sold property to many individual developers who built the homes and condominiums.



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