Homeless project gets go-ahead

  • A map shows the Village 9 and the Kukuiola emergency shelter project. (Courtesy graphic)

A homeless emergency shelter and housing project in Kailua-Kona took an incremental step forward Friday, with unanimous approval by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources for a ground lease and right of entry for Hawaii County.

The Kukuiola homeless village project has been on the books since 2017 and was expected to be completed in May of this year, but progress has been slow.

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“We are working through pre-development requirements,” Harry Yada, with the county Office of Housing and Community Development, said Friday. “We will be sure to inform the public once we have a realistic start date.”

The first phase of the Kukuiola project, located on approximately 19.1 acres, includes 20-30 emergency housing units and temporary intake facility. Future phases would allow for as many as 60-90 more emergency housing units.

The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. will develop 13.2 acres on the parcel’s mauka portion for affordable rental housing. Work on that affordable housing is expected to start in 2025 depending on infrastructure availability, the final environmental assessment stated.

A 1,400-foot-long road with 50-foot-wide right of way will divide the two projects.

Shani Armbruster of Tinguely Development, who is developing the project has said the project will take eight to 10 months once all approvals are in place. She couldn’t be reached for further comment Friday.

The first phase of the project includes grading for entire property, access roadway, 16 units, community pavilion and kitchen, hygiene and laundry facilities, office space, dedicated safe parking and a green space.

The full project site consists of a little less than 36 acres at the corner of Ane Keohokalole Highway and Kealakehe Parkway in Kailua-Kona in the vicinity of the West Hawaii Civic Center and Kealakehe High School.

The right of entry gives the county permission to start construction, Russell Tsuji, administrator in the Department of Land and Natural Resources Land Division told the Land Board. The ground lease gives the county the right to use the property for 65 years at a price of $1 a year.

The project has a budget of $10 million for the first phase, with funding coming via the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. and Ohana Zones initiative, which was allocated by the state Legislature in 2018. The access road comes with a $4 million price tag.

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The Land Board approved the project without comment.

Email Nancy Cook Lauer at ncook-lauer@westhawaiitoday.com.

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