Construction on Kipuka Keaau Community Center pushed back

Plans to open a youth center in Keaau have been pushed back yet again, with the facility now expected to open to the public in 2026.

The Lili‘uokalani Trust was issued county permits to construct the Kipuka Keaau Community Center — a facility in Keaau for Hawaiian children and families to participate in after-school programs — in 2018.

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Although construction was intended to begin in 2020, there still are no definite plans for when groundbreaking on the project will take place.

Elise Fujii, communications manager with the Trust, said the project is still in the design stage, and staff changes on the design team have led to reconsiderations of various aspects of the project’s design.

Although the community center was described in 2019 by Trust representatives as a three-building complex totaling 33,000 square feet, containing facilities such as a gym and a fully functional commercial kitchen, it is unclear how many of those design elements have been retained as the project changes.

The Community Center will occupy a 7-acre parcel of land located immediately south of Keaau Elementary School, which the Trust purchased from W. H. Shipman in 2019. The location was chosen specifically because of its close proximity to Keaau’s elementary and high schools, allowing students to safely and easily travel to programs held at the center.

Fujii said there is currently “no sense on when the design phase will end.”

Once the design stage is over, the project will require additional permits from the county before construction can begin. However, Fujii said the Trust hopes the facility will be open and usable by 2026.

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“This isn’t a tabled project,” Fujii said. “People at the Trust are actively working on it and we’re excited to be able to bring this to the Keaau community.”

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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