Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024|
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Contractors work on the future affordable veterans housing complex, Hale Na Koa 'O Hanakahi, on Jan. 5 at the corner of Kawili Street and Kapiolani Street in Hilo.
A long-awaited senior housing project remains on track to be completed in 2024.
Construction of the Hale Na Koa ‘O Hanakahi housing project began in November after years of planning, and will eventually offer 92 single-bedroom units of affordable housing for Big Island seniors on Kawili Street across from the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus.
Project chairman Bob Williams said site preparation is being done now, with a formal groundbreaking ceremony expected to take place in February. Following that, Williams said construction is expected to last about 20 months.
Marian Gushiken, vice president of real estate development for project developer EAH Housing, said the project will give preference to veterans or spouses of deceased veterans, and will target residents at a range of income levels from between 80% and 30% of the area median income.
“We’re hoping people should be able to move in by the end of 2024,” Gushiken said. “Marketing should begin by the end of this year.”
The community will feature amenities including a dog park, fitness room, coffee bar and more, and housing units will be arranged within four two-story buildings on a 5.6-acre lot. Each unit is approximately 546 square feet and will have a maximum occupancy of three people.
The project has been in the works for more than a decade, and an initial environmental assessment for the development was approved in 2006.
The residential side of the development is only the first of two phases for the project. Williams said that a community-based outpatient facility also is planned for an adjacent lot, although that part of the project is dependent upon additional funding.
“It’ll be $15 million for a 15,000-square-foot building, which is a lot of money,” Williams said. “But then again, the first phase we’re working on now cost $48 million.”
Gushiken said the residential portion of the project has been fully financed as of November to the tune of about $58.4 million. She said the funding comes from a “myriad of sources,” ranging from county grants, state vouchers, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, private sources, and more.
Williams said he is in discussions with potential partners for the clinic, which he said would accommodate outside specialists currently unavailable on the Big Island.
“If you go in for a knee replacement, you’ve got to go to Oahu and go back and forth from here to there, because there’s nobody on the Big Island who can do it,” Williams said.
Williams said he hopes that the clinic could be completed within three years following the groundbreaking of the residential phase in February.
Willams added that he is in discussions with the owners of a parcel across the street who are potentially interested in developing more senior housing units as another phase for the project.
Prospective tenants can submit an online form for an initial application at eahhousing.org/hilo. Eventually, applicants will have to submit income information to be considered. Final tenants will be selcted through a lottery system as required by the state.
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