State’s $192M housing, civic center project in Kahului advances

A rendering of a potential design for the Kahului Civic Center Mixed-Use Complex is shown. PC: Final environmental assessment
The north portion of the state-owned project site for Kahului Civic Center Mixed-Use Complex. PC: Final environmental assessment

A $192 million Kahului plan to develop 300 affordable and market-rate units, along with a civic center for state office space, cleared a hurdle in the approval process. 

The state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism’s Hawaiʻi Housing Finance & Development Corp. is planning to build the Kahului Civic Center Mixed-Use Complex project on nearly 5 acres of state-owned land at the intersection of West Kaʻahumanu Avenue and Kane Street. 

The project received a Finding of No Significant Impact, according to Sunday’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 Sunday to challenge the decision. 

Saying it will boost affordable housing on Maui and provide state office space, the project calls for 300 multifamily dwellings of one-, two- and three-bedroom units and approximately 414 parking spaces. Also, a 66,000-square-foot civic center with about 182 parking spaces would be built. 

More than half of the housing units would be affordable and go toward households earning 140% or below the Area Median Income as defined by federal and state rules. 

With the recent decision, the state is anticipated to find and select a developer this year, according to the final environmental assessment. Then, the developer would complete the Special Management Area use permit process, project design and permitting through 2024.  

Construction could happen between 2024 and 2026. Residents may be able to occupy the housing and the government could move into the office by 2026.  

The civic center may be developed separately, and occupancy would likely occur after 2026. 

In all, the development budget for the project is estimated at $192 million. 

Currently, the mostly vacant state land holds the state Department of Education McKinley Community School for Adults Maui campus building and a DOE maintenance/operations building, which date back to 1920.   

Plans for the state civic center date back decades, and the land was set aside in 2019 to develop the project and the new Central Maui Transit Hub. Currently, the hub is being built by the county and the state on the southeast part of the land near Vevau Street, and it’s not within the proposed project’s scope.   

The report said that the project would build much-needed affordable housing and save the state money by creating office space so nearby state agencies can move out of leased spaces.   

“The mixed-use development will create a vibrant community and live-work neighborhood that creates short- and long-term employment opportunities for Maui residents,” the report said. “Incidentally, the project will also support a 2020 state mandate to reduce General Fund spending for lease rent expenses.”  

The civic center would also hold classroom and support space for the McKinley Community School for Adults Maui campus and space for a new Kahului Public Library.  

About 5,000 square feet of community-oriented commercial space may be included in the multifamily housing buildings or the civic center. Also, the project will include new landscaping, site improvements and off-site vehicular and pedestrian facilities and improvements. 

While it will require many permits and approvals, the project triggers an environmental review under state law due to its proposed use of state lands and funds, along with county land.

To view the Kahului Civic Center Mixed-Use Complex final environmental assessment and FONSI determination, visit “The Environmental Notice.” 

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