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Kilauea Lighthouse Village gets green light

Planning Commission approves permits for 46,800-square-foot mall across from Kong Lung Center

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Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:00 am | Updated: 1:25 pm, Wed Jun 27, 2012.

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Planning Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved the Kilauea Lighthouse Village, an ambitious and controversial 46,800-square-foot mall in the heart of Kilauea Town.

The new shopping center will be on Kilauea Road, across the street from Kong Lung Center. The project includes buildings for a market, hardware store, auto-parts store, drugstore and pharmacy, health clinic, bank, food establishments and professional offices.

Despite the positive outcome for Hunt Development Group, the real estate investor behind the project, the road to approve the project was a bumpy one.

Much of the opposition from the project was based on potential harm to local businesses and also an increase in traffic, adding to more than 100,000 annual visitors who already drive to Kilauea Lighthouse just down the road.

At the end of a long meeting, and only after the developer’s assurance he would do everything in his power to mitigate traffic during construction, commissioners gave Kilauea Ventures, LLC the necessary permits to move the project forward.

The majority of the supporting testimony came from residents who wanted a more walkable town, with amenities such as grocery stores closer than Princeville and Kapa‘a. One of the those testimonies came from a 97-year-old Kilauea resident who is still fit to walk with the aid of a cane.

Kilauea resident David Dinner, however, said if the project was designed to accommodate only Kilauea residents it wouldn’t have to be so large.

“This is massive,” said Dinner, adding the project is designed to accommodate the thousands of visitors going through town daily, which is the only way such a large project could survive. “The project is too big for the town.”

The shopping center, he said, will bring everything to the center of town “in a very bad way.”

Others who supported the project said it would bring local jobs. But a Kilauea resident and business owner said that businesses in the area are barely getting by as it is.

“I don’t know how another big business will succeed,” she said.

Kilauea resident Ron Winnegar said “traffic is just ridiculous in the morning.”

Another Kilauea resident testifying said she had talked to many who were willing to support the project if a bypass road would be built.

But Matt Hunt, development manager at Hunt Group, said Ray McCormick from the state Department of Transportation told him a bypass road is at least five years away, and the county Public Works Department does not recommend full construction of a new entry road for Kilauea at this time.

Commission Chair Jan Kimura wanted an assurance that during construction, workers would use a temporary road in the back of the development, something he said he remembered Hunt had assured him at a previous meeting.

Hunt, however, said his company had not reached an agreement with Bill Hay, the owner of the land behind the mall, which inflamed Kimura’s temper.

“Don’t you think you should’ve done that before you came in here today?” said Kimura, adding that construction traffic in and out of Kilauea Road is “unacceptable” for residents.

Hunt would not say how far along he was in discussions with Hay.

“It’s a public roadway,” Hunt said of Kilauea Road, adding that he would take measures to alleviate the traffic in the area in case an agreement for a back road could not be reached.

Kimura said his decision could be based on the traffic problems.

Hunt’s attorney, Lorna Nishimitsu, said to impose such conditions could make the project unattainable.

After recess called by Kimura to consult with the county attorney, Hay came forward and said he was willing to work out an agreement with Hunt.

The Planning Department added a condition to the permits, stating Hunt would take action to alleviate the traffic if he is not able to secure access to the back of the construction site.

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  • Helplesskauaiian posted at 8:02 am on Fri, Jun 29, 2012.

    Helplesskauaiian Posts: 2

    Hey Mouse, be careful when blaming negative development on local residents, or as you say 'newcomer nimbys'. One drive down Oka st and around Kilauea town for anyone who has lived here for 20 or more years can plainly see the neighborhood has changed from one or two cars per driveway in the past to five or more clogging the drives and easements, and public roads. How many single story homes have almost overnight become second story multi-family homes. Permits have long been unnecessary in Kilauea as the County catches up on much needed beauty sleep. One must distinguish between growth and development. Growth is inevitable, however development affects all residents; new, old, Haole, Pilipino, Latino, African American, Swiss, Dutch, Russian, Kanaka... EVERYONE. What I think most of the dissenters expect is appropriate, sustainable development that has minimal negative impact on the whole community. This is obviously not the goal of the developer. Never is, never will be.

  • AnonyMouse posted at 8:57 am on Thu, Jun 28, 2012.

    AnonyMouse Posts: 784

    The thing that Kilauea residents have totally missed is that it was the building of their own houses that has caused the continued and now commercial development of their area. Look at Waimea with the canyon in its backyard. Has that town changed drastically and been redeveloped with new shopping centers, etc.? Nope. That's because the surrounding lands have largely been kept in ag and not subdivided into house lots. And Waimea gets at least as many tourists through it as does Kilauea town. Comprende? It's newcomer NIMBYS that have brought this on themselves. One has to laugh at their whining. lol!

  • AnonyMouse posted at 8:06 am on Thu, Jun 28, 2012.

    AnonyMouse Posts: 784

    [quote]HANALEIRIVER said: " This project is twice the size of the Princeville shopping center, which is permitted to cater to tourists as it is considered to be a Visitor Destination Area. Kilauea is a NON visitors destination area.That means that businesses are permitted if they serve the residents. Shops catering to tourists are simply not allowed. I doubt they can find enough suitable tenants whose businesses will be approved?"[/quote]

    That’s not correct, HANALEIRIVER. Where’d you ever get that idea? Wishful thinking. The DVA (Designated Visitor Area) is only relevant to the permitting of transient rentals. There is absolutely no county or State regulation that permits only certain types of retail business in a retail zone. Retail is retail. Funny why you folks didn’t see this coming with a major tourist attraction in your backyard.

  • HANALEIRIVER posted at 7:43 am on Thu, Jun 28, 2012.

    HANALEIRIVER Posts: 13

    This project is twice the size of the Princeville shopping center, which is permitted to cater to tourists as it is considered to be a Visitor Destination Area. Kilauea is a NON visitors destination area.That means that businesses are permitted if they serve the residents. Shops catering to tourists are simply not allowed. That means a supermarket or hardware store or maybe a Walmart. I doubt they can find enough suitable tenants whose businesses will be approved? This will not get built, at least not in the near future. The owners will try to flip it. This projest will cost way too much to ever make a profit. Why do you think Princeville is not expanding. I think the County did the right thing in approving this. They will now have the right to increase the taxes on this land owner as this is now a commercial parcel and is worth more. We will all benefit as the developers pay increased taxes and employ not only grounds keepers but lawyers, surveyors and engineers.

  • Helplesskauaiian posted at 9:30 pm on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    Helplesskauaiian Posts: 2

    Ok folks, what do you expect with a repsonse like "it's a public road". It's painfully obvious the residents who live on lighthouse rd. just dont matter. Its also crystal clear what motivates yet another developer. This approach is reminiscent of the 'crappy-ferry', just cram it down their throats and after a while they'll just swallow. Don't worry, soon we'll get a new traffic light in Kilauea to ease everyone's fears and patience? When will people ever come before the quick buck? I just hope it doesn't become as "successful" as the half empty development/shopping center near Safeway. How long has that place been a ghost town?(besides the very much needed Papaya's). Bottom line the County is failing it's residents by allowing such 'progress' without providing adequate access. How often will they be paving lighthouse road and at whose expense, monetary and otherwise? I'm all for progress for the right reasons but if it doesn't help the majority wait until it can. Why not do it right?

  • recondog posted at 4:42 pm on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    recondog Posts: 200

    Whiners: whose property is it anyway?

  • cherishkauai posted at 12:45 pm on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    cherishkauai Posts: 11

    I'm very sorry to hear that this shopping center has been approved. Big Developers win again. With it I fear the small town, old Hawaiian rural charm of Kilauea will disappear. And to those of you who think stores at this location will offer anything in the way of a bargain, think again. Who do you think is going to pay for all those fancy buildings, parking lots, etc? YOU.
    People need to realize that they cannot have it all. Do you want to live in a small quiet town and shop local even though it means having to pay what you feel is a premium for some items or do you want a "45,000-square-foot, grocery-anchored neighborhood center situated on a 6.208 acre parcel along the road to the Kilauea Lighthouse". Plunk right in the middle of our little town. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. Is that progress? Is that what you really want?

    The above quote has been taken from KilaueaLighthouseVillage.com, the developers site.

  • AnonyMouse posted at 11:05 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    AnonyMouse Posts: 784

    [quote]Drew said: "They say this shopping center is for the benefit of the residents of Kilauea. Why then was their no mention of a grocery store? Hardware store and auto parts store, so you can fix your car to drive miles for food."[/quote]

    Good question, Drew. The real reason is that most folks yield to self-interest and do their buying at Costco, Home Depot, Walmart, and Sears, etc. Kilauea doesn't have enough residents to support big markets and hardware stores, etc.; at least not yet. Look at Ace Hardware in Ele'ele as an example. It hangs on, but just barely. One couldn't build a store there today at today's costs and survive. And that's all because of OUR buying habits. The majority of Kauaians have clearly voted in favor of lower prices and more selection versus location convenience.

  • Drew posted at 10:44 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    Drew Posts: 69

    They say this shopping center is for the benefit of the residents of Kilauea. Why then was their no mention of a grocery store? Hardware store and auto parts store, so you can fix your car to drive miles for food.

  • AnonyMouse posted at 10:37 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    AnonyMouse Posts: 784

    The key is plenty of parking so folks will get out and walk to old and new Kilauea merchants.

    Lack of competition is what makes Kilauea merchant prices high; the lower priced businesses are far away and inconvenient. The more competition you give merchants, the lower their prices will get in the quest to get your business. This is moderated, however, by the merchants' cost of doing business, which in Hawaii ain’t cheap.

    One way to realize necessary but expensive improvements to public areas is for the County to invest in them financed by bonds, figure out a feasibly proportional assessment to the developer, then to have future developers buy into those improvements as a condition of their approvals. There will be future development. Kilauea residents will experience increased traffic, but they’ll also realize increased value to their properties which they may or may not care about. Just stating facts.

  • haena7 posted at 10:35 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    haena7 Posts: 75

    well this sucks! lighthouse road is already dangerous bc of all the speeders. the traffic is crazy in kilauea! one thing, who are they gonna hire to build this? union? out of state workers? BTW pizza at pau hana is awesome & the girls there rock!

  • paystatus posted at 9:56 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    paystatus Posts: 133

    and do we really even need a newspaper ? delivery drivers burning up the road, car fumes, wasting paper and upsetting my pitbull;

    lets all go back to the stone ages !!

  • moailio posted at 7:41 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    moailio Posts: 57

    them to pay for infrastructure (roads, sewer, parks, etc.) before projects could begin. They said it would be too expensive, it would put them out of business. Guess what: they managed to pave over the Everglades anyway!

  • moailio posted at 7:39 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    moailio Posts: 57

    I lived in south Florida for many years, and remember the developers howling when laws were passed REQUIRING

  • kauaiboy posted at 7:21 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    kauaiboy Posts: 238

    Rest assured that the rent and other costs of doing business for new tenants at this center will dictate retail prices which will be equally high to existing businesses for goods of equal quality. Do NOT expect a $2 coffee or $15 pizza. Ain't gonna happen.

    What WILL happen is an absurd increase in traffic on an already crowded 2 lane road. This project should never have received approval unless the bypass road could be opened at the same time or earlier than the center. Period.

  • billyjoebob posted at 6:40 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    billyjoebob Posts: 1274

    " Get frozen pizza at foodland princeville "

    Why not just eat cardboard, cheaper and probably better for you.
    ( Support Foodland, that will show those outsiders ! )

  • kealiahana posted at 2:07 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    kealiahana Posts: 287

    Yep Pizza, bagel that sounds like local food to me. I don't like development at all. No more. Kaua'i does not need to wear a "suit" of starbucks, Pizza hut, Home Depot etc. Enough developement which typically caters for transplants and change the way we live as locals on the island. I also don;t like being ripped off by business who over charge. Answer to this don;t support them easy as that. They will eventually go down. Get frozen pizza at foodland princeville

  • Chrisbielle posted at 1:30 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    Chrisbielle Posts: 40

    I'm usually against development. But in this case, I can't wait for the "potential harm to local businesses". They have been ripping off the community with their ridiculous prices for years. I can't wait to watch them fall. The days of $30 dollar pizzas and $20 bagel, coffee, and pastry are about to end!!!


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