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Maui County Policy Changes Should Help Lands for Development

The Maui County Council recently amended its Workforce Housing policies in hopes of helping initiate more housing starts on Maui. This comes years after a workforce housing shortage initiated Maui’s first workforce housing requirements for subdivisions. I was on the Planning Commission at the time as we took testimony and passed on recommendations to the County Council.

A few of us, after hearing convincing data from the private sector, recommended a Workforce Housing policy for 25% affordable housing on new subdivisions with smaller subdivisions being exempt. The thought was that existing lands with zoning in place should not be burdened after the fact with additional restrictions. Unions, contractors, and developers testified that developments going through changes in zoning could build additional workforce housing as they were benefiting from the Council’s vote to increase building density.

Council Eases Up on Housing Requirements

Fast forward to today…the County Council has lowered the burden on workforce housing units being developed when market units or properties are created.

Rules: 20 to 25 percent affordables for projects – down from 50 percent.

Who benefits?

My listing for 646 acres in Kula is a prime candidate (along with the savvy investor) for benefiting from this change. The property is comprised of 3 lots with 3 County water meters and is currently allowed 52 agriculture zoned lots ranging from 2 acres up to 40+ acres. List price of $10,900,000 equates to only $16,873 per acre and $210,000 per lot if 52 lots are created.

vacantland

646 acres for sale in Kula (MLS# 362281)

Here are the calculations for lots based on the information we have at the time for the size of the 3 lots. Calculations based on Title 19.30A of the Maui County Code:

  • 33 acres: 7 x 2 acres = 7 lots total
  • 158 acres: 13 x 2 acres, 3 x 15 acres, 1 x 25 acres = 17 lots total
  • 454 acres: 14 x 2 acres, 8 x 15 acres, 4 x 25 acres, 2 x 40 acres = 28 lots total
  • 646 acres total currently allocated 52 lots

 
*** Confirm with Maui County Planning Department during Due Diligence.

Now that the workforce housing component of the development may also be created off site, this allows the development’s lots to all be market rate. With current land asking prices in Kula, Olinda, Makawao, and Pukalani averaging over $775,000 for lots between 2 acres and 25 acres, 49 lots with an average size of over 10 acres has become an opportunity on Maui. The property runs from 1,100′ elevation to 2,100′ elevation, allowing for well drilling/private water systems to be developed for immediate subdivision.

Interim farming, orchards, urban planning changes, family trust or compound, solar electric farm, safari hunts, etc. have all come up as options for this property. A purchasing entity with time to work on this land could create a rare agricultural production, and reap the benefits of crops and future benefits of estate development.

Kula Real Estate Sales (2014)

Here is a graph of actual sales in Kula:

Kula Market Stats

Maui’s Land Market – What’s Available?

Here is a sample of the 40-something available lots in the Upcountry Maui area, helping one understand the land market on Maui.

Pulehunui (MLS# 361020): Large water meter, great views, private road in farming area, CPR’d lot eligible for cottage, $650,000.

Omaopio Road (MLS# 362515): Reservoir on site, 19 acres, views, 1″ water meter, active agriculture area, $1,100,000.

Kamehameiki Rd. (MLS# 360708): Views toward Lana’i, old terrace rock walls, unique features, borders ranch land, 4 acres, $665,000.

Naele Road (MLS# 352499): Lower Elevation, level lot, no CC and Rs, agricultural area, great for horses, large space, 16 acres, $1,195,000.

Keokea Kai (MLS# 363033): New Subdivision, Keokea green pastures, Kahoolawe, Molokini Views, completed 2015, $570,000.

Makani o Kula (MLS# 360849): Makani o Kula, newer subdivision, all new homes, gated estate sites, CC and Rs, $795,000.

More Information

Please do not hesitate to phone or contact me if you have any questions on any of these or any other Maui properties.

Aloha,
JB Guard

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Tobi Fisher

December 30, 2014

Aloha JB,

Thank you for all the insightful information. I have toured your 646 acres a few times and think it is an incredible opportunity, one that will not come along very often if never again in Hawai’i. Being a resident of Kula I understand what a perfect climate and location we live in with vista/ocean views and moderate to cool temperatures. If/when a subdivision is done on the 646 I don’t think you could have a bad lot and everyone would have an ocean view. I hope to find a client soon who appreciates it’s value. These new developments passed by the County Council make for exciting times for developers. Best Wishes and A Happy New Year.

Tobi Fisher

December 30, 2014

Aloha JB,

Thank you for all the insightful information. I have toured your 646 acres a few times and think it is an incredible opportunity, one that will not come along very often if never again in Hawai’i. Being a resident of Kula I understand what a perfect climate and location we live in with vista/ocean views and moderate to cool temperatures. If/when a subdivision is done on the 646 I don’t think you could have a bad lot and everyone would have an ocean view. I hope to find a client soon who appreciates it’s value. These new developments passed by the County Council make for exciting times for developers. Best Wishes and A Happy New Year.

Tracy Stice

January 9, 2015

JB, I agree that the county council and the mayor have stepped up in the face of reality; that a 50% requirement for affordable housing took all the incentive away from new construction. Really, now what it gets down to is the cost to actually develop your 646 acres. By the time somebody sinks the wells to pump the water and provide fire protection and irrigation for the project, they better have some serious buyers lined up. Financing vacant land is the toughest part and the fact the vacant lots have been on the market a year on the average in Kula reflects this reality. The best buyer would be one who would actually be able to step in and start farming it immediately and work on the development over the long term. I am exposing to all my calls from ” sustainability ” buyers. With a big PV farm, you could pump all the water you want at affordable rates ; during the day to a reservoir at the top of the property. Have a great 2015, you deserve it !

JB Guard

January 9, 2015

Thanks Tracy. That is actually what we are working on. Existing wells in Kula at the higher elevation have shown very low chloride levels. With the abundance of land in a great solar zone, we are looking to pump water to large tanks at the top of the property during daylight hours and gravity feed from the 2100′ elevation down to the lower house sites at 1600′ elevation. The solar farm will be in a flat zone with little view and little impact on views for the developed lots. The upper portion of the property will be a phase one development of 2 to 10 acre lots and we will preserve the lower acreage with the best sun zone for photovoltaic, existing farming and expand the farming with diversified crops for the long term or convert to a rural farm type zoning later.
A new product in a central Upcountry location with State Highway access should see high demand. Happy New Year!!

Tracy Stice

January 9, 2015

JB, I agree that the county council and the mayor have stepped up in the face of reality; that a 50% requirement for affordable housing took all the incentive away from new construction. Really, now what it gets down to is the cost to actually develop your 646 acres. By the time somebody sinks the wells to pump the water and provide fire protection and irrigation for the project, they better have some serious buyers lined up. Financing vacant land is the toughest part and the fact the vacant lots have been on the market a year on the average in Kula reflects this reality. The best buyer would be one who would actually be able to step in and start farming it immediately and work on the development over the long term. I am exposing to all my calls from ” sustainability ” buyers. With a big PV farm, you could pump all the water you want at affordable rates ; during the day to a reservoir at the top of the property. Have a great 2015, you deserve it !

JB Guard

January 9, 2015

Thanks Tracy. That is actually what we are working on. Existing wells in Kula at the higher elevation have shown very low chloride levels. With the abundance of land in a great solar zone, we are looking to pump water to large tanks at the top of the property during daylight hours and gravity feed from the 2100′ elevation down to the lower house sites at 1600′ elevation. The solar farm will be in a flat zone with little view and little impact on views for the developed lots. The upper portion of the property will be a phase one development of 2 to 10 acre lots and we will preserve the lower acreage with the best sun zone for photovoltaic, existing farming and expand the farming with diversified crops for the long term or convert to a rural farm type zoning later.
A new product in a central Upcountry location with State Highway access should see high demand. Happy New Year!!

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