Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024|
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Michael Brestovansky/Hawaii Tribune-Herald
A public notice for the project on an undeveloped 9-acre lot on Mohouli Street.
Image courtesy Ross Chapin Architects
A possible design for the development.
A proposed affordable housing development in Hilo is still a long ways off, the developers say.
Hale Ola O Mohouli is a planned housing project that would build 90 units on a state-owned 9-acre lot on Mohouli Street, adjacent to the Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood. The project would be targeted toward low- to moderate-income seniors and families.
An environmental assessment for the project anticipating that it would have no significant environmental impact was published in 2021. But two years later, the project’s managers say that construction is still not anticipated to begin until 2025.
Jeremy McComber, chief of operations for the Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation — the nonprofit developing the project — said via email that financing has still not been secured.
While the development was anticipated in 2021 to cost about $47 million, McComber noted that the rising cost of goods and services likely will require repeated cost evaluations throughout the next steps of the project.
“This may alter the unit types/materials, as live costs and financing availability will determine the product we are able to deliver,” McComber wrote, but added that the scope of the project remains unchanged.
HICDC will pursue funding from the state’s Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation during its first 2024 funding cycle in the spring, and from the Hawaii County Office of Housing and Community Development’s Affordable Housing Program.
McComber wrote that applying for HHFDC funding is a time-consuming process taking months to prepare, followed by months of waiting for application results.
HICDC won’t know if funding is awarded until fall 2024, which sets a tentative start date for
construction in the summer of 2025.
According to documents submitted to the county, the development will include a mix of one- and two-bedroom units available only to households with an income of 60% or less than the area median income. Preference will be given to applicants more than 62 years old.
HICDC Executive Director Keith Kato has previously described the development as a series of close-knit “pocket neighborhoods” arranged around green space.
The project received a zoning exemption from the county Planning Department last year allowing buildings to be constructed as close as 10 feet together, instead of the 15-foot minimum.
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