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The Hokuao project on Lanai, consisting of 150 rental houses, came closer to reality on Wednesday as the National Land Use Commission approved a district boundary change from agricultural to urban for 56 of the 76 acres in the country. project. Pulama Lanai Render

An affordable, market-priced rental housing project on Lanai cleared a final major hurdle on Wednesday, as the state’s Land Use Commission approved a shift from agricultural to urban use for 56 of the residents. 76 acres where the 150 home rental project will be built.

The seven commissioners present at the virtual meeting voted in favor of the district boundary modification for the Hokuao project proposed by Pulama Lana’i, the entity managing the island for majority landowner Larry Ellison. The remaining 20 acres required no state land use change, company officials said.

The commissioners said housing was badly needed on the island and praised Pulama for his work on the project which will take place just outside the city. Eight people testified, all in favor of the project, saying the lack of housing prevents even former residents from returning to their homes and forces some workers to live in hotel rooms.

The project was reviewed earlier by Maui County Council members, some of whom had previously said they wanted to see more affordable rentals in the mix, or perhaps see the whole project made affordable.

The rental project will include 150 two-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family homes, of which 76 will be affordable in perpetuity and 74 will be at market rates, putting the project just above the 50 percent affordable threshold needed under the fast-paced regime. the state. follow the approval process.

On September 3, council approved the project under the fast-track process, which allows exemptions from certain rules if the project is at least 50 percent affordable.

The houses will be equipped with solar panels with back-up batteries and will be fully furnished. Utilities will be included in the rent for affordable homes and the landscaping will be maintained by Pulama. The development will also include a community center and park open to the public as well as on-site parking and on-street parking and pocket parks along the southern border. The first houses should be ready in 2023.

Commissioner Lee Ohigashi of Maui brought forward the motion to approve the change to the district boundaries and conditions, saying the project would contribute to the “Critical need” for housing on Lanai, Maui and the state.

He added that Keiki-Pua Dancil, senior vice president of government affairs and strategic planning for Pulama Lana’i, and president of Pulama Lana’i Kurt Matsumoto, who both testified at the meeting, told him assured that the project is aimed at residents and workers on Lanai.

Matsumoto told Ohigashi at the meeting that the houses will not be for short-term rental.

Ohigashi said he liked Pulama to develop infrastructure that Maui County could also use for its affordable housing project next door.

Commissioner Dawn Chang hoped Hokuao would be a “model” for others to follow her and became emotional when she spoke of her affirmative vote.

“But it shows that when you have a receptive landowner and you have a CEO who has a connection to this place, who brings sensitivity to the vision and to the policies that honor and respect the community and the place, it is this kind of synergy that I think this community has wanted for a long time ”, Chang said, referring to Matsumoto being a Lanai native.

But Chang also noted that it probably took some “framing,” because Ellison is not a piece of cake, but said the business is “In a good place” to embark on such a project.

President Jonathan Likeke Scheuer also voted in favor but raised a few “Apprehensions”, including the ability of families to pass on housing to their children. Scheuer said what allowed him to live in Hawaii was that his parents were owners and that with rental plans a family cannot build capital. However, he added that he had seen “a lot of merits” with rentals too.

With county and state approvals now in hand, the project only needs building permits and other permits, which it hopes to secure next year. Pulama Lana’i said the project will be fully completed in 2025. The company is funding the project itself and said that due to private funding it is not disclosing a cost.

* Melissa Tanji can be contacted at [email protected]

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