I went to the Prince Kuhio Day Celebration at Kealakehe High School and saw the latest developments on Kamakana Villages at Keahuolu—a proposed master-planned community developed in partnership between the State of Hawaii’s Housing Finance and Development Corporation and Forest City Hawaii.
Kamakana Villages will be located from the corner of Henry Street and Palani Road going North toward Kealakehe High School on Ane Keohokalole Hwy. which is where the new county buildings are…
Here are some FAQ’s about this new development in Kona:
Who is developing Kamakana Villages at Keahuolu?
Kamakana Villages at Keahuolu is a new community development being proposed by the State of Hawaii’s Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) and Forest City Hawaii. The partnership is a good pairing as HHFDC is committed to providing affordable housing opportunities for Hawaii’s residents, and Forest City has an outstanding track record of developing successful, sustainable communities nationwide.
Why is this community needed?
Most importantly, Kamakana Villages will provide new and much-needed affordable homes for working families in North Kona, along with other amenities and services important to a community’s residents.
Plus, this new master-planned community will be built in a location already identified for development of new homes by the Kona Community Development Plan and County of Hawaii General Plan. Kamakana Villages will help meet the growing demands of new homes, jobs, and other social services that are needed in North Kona.
Has there been community input into the design of Kamakana Villages?
Yes. Working groups from the surrounding area comprised of longtime residents, parents, business owners, and civic leaders met with the development team and provided their input as to the qualities most important to the needs of North Kona and the community.
These qualities identified by the working groups are as follows:
- Connectivity to the community-at-large
- Open Spaces
- Kokua Aku, Kokua Mai—A spirit of helping each other
Where will the new community be located?
Kamakana Villages will be centrally located in the heart of North Kona at the crossroads of Henry Street, Palani Road, and Ane Keohokalole, the new mid-level road currently under construction. A key advantage of this location is that residents will have convenient access to transit services, as well as to Queen Kaahumanu Highway for short commutes to jobs, restaurants, stores, and professional services in the Kona area.
Is the development committed to building affordable homes?
Yes. The State’s HHFDC requires that Kamakana Villages provide more than 50 percent of the new homes to buyers whose household income is at or under 140 percent of the median income for Hawaii County. Ensuring this commitment is the development agreement between HHFDC and Forest City Hawaii, which maintains and manages a breakdown on the estimated target prices. Land will not be transferred to Forest City Hawaii until HHFDC has approved in advance the affordability home levels for each new phase of development.
How many affordable homes are being built?
Altogether, 1,169 of the new homes at Kamakana Villages will be built and priced at County of Hawaii affordable levels. This is more than half of the total number of 2,330 homes planned for construction.
What are the projected home sizes and mix of affordable homes being offered?
Kamakana Villages affordable homes will offer a range of one to three bedroom units and will average two bedrooms for the overall development, which is consistent with the average household size of 2.68 persons in Hawaii County. The size of the interior living space is expected to range from 500—1,300 square feet, with the final sizes depending on buyer demands and construction costs.
One of the main centers of this development is called “Mu Center”…named after Lemuria—the Pacific continent that Hawaii is the mountain tops of…so cool!
What is the development time frame?
The State Land Use Commission approved the development plan for Kamakana Villages on November 4, 2010 (that’s about when they started construction near the intersection of Henry St. & Palani Rd.). Pending approval from the County of Hawaii, construction of Kamakana Villages infrastructure is scheduled to begin in 2011, with the first homes being opened to families in late 2012. The total build-out for Kamakana Villages will take place over a 20-year period.
What are some of the other community benefits that Kamakana Villages is bringing to North Kona?
Kamakana Villages will contribute to the quality of life for families living in the new community and surrounding area, with the following:
- Two new sites for state-of-the-art school facilities, one to be used by the Hawaii State Department of Education and one for a charter school.
- Open spaces, including two seven-acre parks for use as sports fields and playgrounds, other parks of 1-2 acres for picnics and social gatherings, and smaller park space spread throughout the residential neighborhoods.
- A neighborhood center that is planned to include a supermarket, drugstore, restaurants, stores, and office space for professional services.
- Walkable tree-lined streets with bike paths in a community design that encourages residents to use their cars less frequently for leisure and shopping purposes.
- Preservation of Hawaiian archaeological sites discovered on the property site, including house platforms, agricultural walls, and burial sites.
Will Kamakana Villages be environmentally friendly?
Yes. Kamakana Villages will be a “green” community, sustainable, and environmentally conscious in its design and development. Both the residential and commercial structures will be eco-friendly and energy efficient, using renewable energy, solar hot water, and water conservation strategies. Also, Kamakana Villages is being built as a transit-oriented development, meaning that access to and the use of alternate means of transportation will be encouraged and incorporated throughout the design to help reduce dependency on automobiles.
I like the sustainability and earth-friendly aspects of developments coming up…planning far forward past the 21st century, in preparation for a self-sustainable island
What kind of economic impact will Kamakana Villages have on the area?
Development of Kamakana Villages will create a strong infusion of capital and job creation for North Kona. More than $730 million in capital investment will be generated over the course of the build-out period, and an estimated $143 million will be generated annually thereafter. In addition, the new community will support an estimated 933 full-time jobs annually. The Big Island’s construction industry will also benefit, with an estimated $505 million in wages being generated for workers during the building of the project.
Why are exemptions being sought from the County?
Forest City Hawaii is currently requesting 56 exemptions that will let construction of Kamakana Villages to be accomplished expeditiously and with the use of sustainable building practices that will help make it affordable for working families and be in compliance with the Kona Community Development Plan.
Of that total, currently 48 exemptions are for construction to commence and comply with LEED Neighborhood Development requirements, SmartCode principles and/or Kona Community Development Plan guidelines, 6 exemptions are to reduce the cost of constructing affordable units, and 2 exemptions are to expedite permit review and project approvals.
None of the requested exemptions preempt health or safety requirements for the project workers or future residents.
Has Forest City invested money into the development of Kamakana Villages?
Yes, the company thus far has invested more than $1.3 million into the project’s planning and development. In addition, Forest City Hawaii is required to provide approximately $160 million in funding or financing for the land development. Moreover, Forest City Hawaii is required to provide additional equity for its construction of homes.
How much does the State of Hawaii have invested in Kamakana Villages?
The State of Hawaii’s Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) has provided a $25 million loan to support the planning, off-site infrastructure, engineering, and entitlements for the development.
Are the State’s interests protected by the development agreement between HHFDC and Forest City Hawaii?
Yes, absolutely. HHFDC owns the Kamakana Villages property and will only transfer the land for each development phase when Forest City Hawaii demonstrates in advance that it has the necessary infrastructure, financing, and affordable home commitments in place for each new phase.
Each development phase has restricted covenants attached to it ensuring that Forest City Hawaii will comply with the commitment of affordable homes before work starts on the land. The number of homes, sales prices, rents, and uses must be approved by HHFDC in advance for each phase before Forest City Hawaii can begin development.
In addition, Forest City Hawaii must purchase the finished land at fair market value before constructing the homes. All affordable homes must be completed by 2023 (plus five years if Forest City Hawaii has made substantial progress).
- HHFDC can terminate the development agreement if Forest City Hawaii does not complete the affordable homes on a pre-determined schedule.
- HHFDC is named on all agreements, leases, and deeds in order to maintain perpetual management of affordable home requirements.
Affordable homes offered for sale can only be sold to buyers who meet the necessary income requirements. HHFDC will give priority to larger families for the selection of homes. Buyers must be Hawaii residents and sign a certificate as owner-occupants. They are also required to complete a home ownership-counseling course sponsored by Forest City Hawaii.
Preference will be given to Hawaii residents for the community’s market-priced homes.
Is the development process involving the community’s feedback?
The development of Kamakana Villages has been a carefully planned process that has incorporated the community’s feedback into its design.
HHFDC completed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the project in 2008 following months of public and stakeholder input.
Starting in mid-2009, Forest City Hawaii notified the public in West Hawaii about its intention to develop Kamakana Villages and invited area residents to be a part of the planning process. Many meetings were held with working groups from the area over the following year and their input is reflected in Kamakana Villages development plan. The project is still proceeding under the originally proposed schedule for obtaining State and County approvals by late 2010 and early 2011.
I love the trees and green space in the residential areas…reminds me of Four Seasons Hualalai…very tasteful…
If either party terminates the development agreement, will Forest City Hawaii be reimbursed by HHFDC?
No. Forest City Hawaii has made a substantial investment into the development of Kamakana Villages and will only earn a profit once improved parcels are sold for construction of new homes.
Additionally, if the agreement were to be terminated, Forest City Hawaii must return all unimproved lands from existing and future development phases to HHFDC. Then, all improved parcels must be sold with their respective affordable covenants in order to pay off liens and project costs. If any funds still remain, Forest City might receive a return on its investment, but there is no guarantee that this would be the case.
Can the development agreement be changed?
Yes, the development agreement can be amended at any time subject to the written approval of both HHFDC and Forest City Hawaii.
What is the land for county roads and parks in Kamakana Villages worth?
The actual value of the property for Kamakana Villages will be determined at the time it is developed and dedicated to Hawaii County. The Hawaii State Department of Education provided a land valuation analysis for West Hawaii in 2009, which projected the future value of similar improved property at $300,000 to $500,000 per acre, but that is only an estimate.
Has the Traffic Impact Assessment Report for Kamakana Villages been accepted?
Not yet, but the State and County is expected to grant a conditional approval that will require an approved traffic report and its fair share agreements be in place before the project’s final subdivision is completed. This is a common practice with community developments in Hawaii. Forest City Hawaii will fully comply with this requirement.
Who is Forest City Hawaii?
Forest City Hawaii is a subsidiary of Forest City Enterprises, Inc., a family-owned company based in Cleveland, Ohio, with an 80-year legacy as an award-winning developer of sustainable residential communities, mixed-use developments, and commercial structures nationwide. Forest City has established a reputation for making a long-term commitment to doing what’s good for a community and then employing the strategies and building practices needed to make a positive impact for residents and commercial users. For more information on its portfolio of projects, visit them online.
Forest City Hawaii is one of Hawaii’s biggest residential community developers, and is currently nearing completion on the development and construction of 6,500 homes for Navy and Marine personnel and their families on Oahu and Kauai. Forest City Hawaii is doing this in partnership with the Department of the Navy and is acting in the role of owner, manager, developer, and construction manager for these homes.
The company is also developing several renewable energy projects in the State of Hawaii.
Who is leading the Kamakana Villages development team?
Race Randle of Forest City Hawaii and Waimea’s Tom Yamamoto are heading up the day-to-day activities for the Kamakana Villages development team. If you have specific questions, Race can be reached via e-mail at RaceRandle@forestcity.net
Other development team members contributing their expertise to the planning of Kamakana Villages includes the following:
- Group 70 International Inc. from Honolulu
- Calthorpe Associates from Berkeley, California
- Riehm Owensby Planners Architects from Kona
- David Tamura, Landscape Architect from Hilo
It takes a lot to make a community! Let’s be the community we want to experience at Kamakana Villages in Kailua-Kona, Big Island of Hawaii!
If you’d like more information on this, or any Hawaii development, please let me know and I will research the details for you…and us!
Claire K. Bajo, RS