120-unit affordable rental project slated for Waiehu gains key state approval

The proposed site for 120-unit Hale Mahaolu Ke Kahua affordable rental project sits off Kahekili Highway in Waiehu. PC: Google Maps
Proposed Hale Mahaolu Ke Kahua Affordable Housing Community conceptual site plan. PC: Design Partners Inc.
PC: Design Partners Inc.

A 100% affordable rental project with 120 units planned for Waiehu recently gained an important state approval.  

Hale Mahaolu Ke Kahua Affordable Housing Community would provide one-, two- and three-bedroom rental units for low-income families on nearly 11.5 acres owned by nonprofit Maui Economic Opportunity Inc. near the intersection of Kahekili Highway and Waiehu Beach Road.  

The project received a Finding of No Significant Impact, according to Wednesday’s edition of “The Environmental Notice” published by the state Office of Planning and Sustainable Development.  

This means that state law requiring environmental study was met by the project’s environmental assessment, and a deeper environmental impact statement won’t be needed. The public has 30 days from Wednesday to challenge the decision. 

MEO, along with California-based affordable housing developer Highridge Costa Companies, is seeking county fast-track approval for Hale Mahaolu Ke Kahua Affordable Housing Community, a $33.5 million project that would be managed by Hale Mahaolu and rented to adults of all ages who earn 60% or less of the area median income.  

The project would hold 120 multifamily residential units in 13 two-story buildings (28 one-bedroom units, 60 two-bedroom units and 32 three-bedroom units), along with a roughly 3,500-square-foot nonprofit building and an approximately 3,000-square-foot clubhouse. A total of 274 parking stalls and two loading stalls would be included. 

Construction could start as early as the first or second quarter of next year, if it gains fast-track approval by the Maui County Council. 

Maui County Code Chapter 2.97 is a process that allows 100% affordable housing developments to move quickly by changing or bypassing certain conditions with Maui County Council approval.  

The applicant will be seeking exemptions from county zoning and community plan rules, and it will ask that the council, not the state, review the state land use district boundary amendment.  

Once entitlement and construction permits and approvals are obtained, the project would be built in one phase over approximately 16 months, with completion targeted for the third quarter of 2024. 

MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe on Thursday lauded the Finding of No Significant Impact for Hale Mahaolu Ke Kahua Affordable Housing Community. 

“We are pleased with the finding of no significant impact,” she said in a statement. 

The 11.476-acre parcel formerly used for macadamia nut farming was conveyed by Hawaii Land & Farming to MEO in 2008. Since then, it’s been largely vacant and unused, except for a group of Native Hawaiians laying claim to the land.  

MEO has maintained that its title is clear and that the group has the wrong location.  

“(We) are working out some trespassing issues that we expect to be resolved by mid-July,” Cabebe added. 

The project triggers an environmental review under state law due to its proposed use of state/county lands and county funds. 

To view the Hale Mahaolu Ke Kahua Affordable Housing Community final environmental assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact determination, visit “The Environmental Notice.”

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