Developer proposes more development at West Hawaii Business Park before Kamanu Street is extended

  • The shaded area of this map shows the 48.4-acre portion that could be developed within the West Hawaii Business Park under a proposal that went before the Leeward Planning Commission. That condition would require the construction of the indicated road segments - North Access Road, South Access Road and Kanalani Street. The commission on Thursday voted to send a favorable recommendation on the proposal to the Hawaii County Council. (County of Hawaii Planning Department)

KAILUA-KONA — The Leeward Planning Commission on Thursday voted to send a favorable recommendation to the Hawaii County Council on a proposal to expand the space in which the West Hawaii Business Park could develop without triggering a requirement to build a new road in the area.

The proposal also calls for the landowner, its successor or an assignee to extend a different road as well as build two segments connecting the extension to Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

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It would also give the region a new point of access to the Kaloko Light Industrial Park, where Costco is located.

In 2004, the State Land Use Commission reclassified the site of the West Hawaii Business Park from conservation to urban. That was followed months later by a County Council ordinance that rezoned the area for industrial use, according to documents filed at the Planning Department.

But that ordinance included a condition that, other than a 10-acre portion of the property, the extension of Kamanu Street must be built before any lots can be subdivided.

The unfinished Kamanu Street currently extends about 300 feet beyond its intersection with Honokohau Street and picks up again about three quarters of a mile farther north, just above Costco. From there, it continues north to Hina Lani Street.

But the application that commissioners considered Thursday argues completing the construction of Kamanu Street wouldn’t benefit the Business Park’s makai lots, and the highest-value lots are those fronting the highway.

It furthermore argued Ane Keohokalole Highway, completed a decade after the ordinance passed, accomplished the same goal of improving interconnectivity in the region that building Kamanu Street would.

During Thursday’s meeting, Lanihau Properties president and CEO Riley Smith said they aren’t actively trying to develop that area and have been trying for the past decade to sell some or all of the property. But they’ve been unsuccessful because of the associated upfront roadway costs.

As a result, the landowner proposed increasing how much land — from 10 acres to 48.4 acres — could be developed before triggering the need to build Kamanu Street. The proposal doesn’t change the actual footprint of the Business Park, just how much can be developed before triggering the road construction requirement. It also leaves in place the requirement to build Kamanu Street if anything beyond the 48.4-acre area is developed.

The amended ordinance would also come with three new roads in the area — a north-south extension of Kanalani Street and two segments connecting that street to Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

Kanalani Street, the most immediately mauka road above Queen Kaahumanu Highway that extends from Hina Lani Street south to Spectrum’s office, would be extended by about three-tenths of a mile farther south.

The other two roads would be segments of North and South Access Roads, connecting the highway and Kanalani Street.

That segment of South Access Road would connect Kanalani Street to the highway at the existing signalized intersection at the entrance to Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park.

“So we’re offering to build that infrastructure,” Smith said, “if we have the opportunity to subdivide the 48 acres.”

Under the proposed amendment, the three roads must be constructed to county standards before a certificate of occupancy for development is issued within the 48.4-acre area.

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During a vote, commissioners approved a motion to send a favorable recommendation to the County Council on the matter. That motion also included a requirement for an updated traffic impact analysis report “if warranted by a significant change in circumstance” or if required by the Department of Public Works.

On a separate agenda item, the Leeward Planning Commission approved a request from Goodfellow Bros Inc. to extend the life of a special permit for an operating base yard at the Waikoloa Quarry as well as for a concrete/asphalt batching plant at the site.

  1. Vesparado August 17, 2018 6:46 am

    Oh boy. More unimaginative square metal buildings.


    1. 4whatitsworth August 17, 2018 7:42 am

      You are right. I am also tired of seeing new construction that is just box, unimaginative no no style. The problem is that after all of the cost of environmental studies, legal battles with the NIMBY’s (Not In My Back Yard people), an the other massive soft costs there is just no money to build something nice.


      1. ypupule August 17, 2018 10:02 am

        I see nicer stuff on HGTV and the DIY network than anything here, lol. When I thumb thru architectural mags, I’m astounded — “Wow, why haven’t I ever seen anything like that here?” Is it cost? But even the high-end homes seem to be someone else’s cookie-cutter, resort-ish vision of what “paradise” should look like. Surely a top local architect could be creative, visionary and still maintain a sense of place. Or maybe I just don’t get out of my hood often enough, lol…


        1. Alex August 17, 2018 10:30 am

          We seem to be hell bent on transforming the whole area between KOA and Palani Rd. into mainland suburbia-style wasteland. Needlessly ruining our tourism product in the process. The character of the whole area has already changed beyond recognition in the past 12 years or so. No more “village” feel. Need to get a design ordinance going in the Council. Maybe we can provide incentives for developers who work with local architects.


          1. joedriver August 17, 2018 4:03 pm

            Koloko is more like a 3rd world tin city than a modern or tropical look. If you move all the homeless there it will be done..


      2. joedriver August 17, 2018 4:01 pm

        True, way to many obstacles in Hawaii for builders to have to contend with. For a place in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean one would think there would be more openness to developers. Oahu isn’t like the big island, an no it never will be, but it would be nice to have some of the other business offerings on this island. Until the volcano’s die this island will never be developed like Oahu so the worry warts can stop all the fussing. Lets get some of them high-rises built in the hills to provide housing and stop the sprawl along the shores .


    2. KonaLife August 17, 2018 2:27 pm

      Well, when you build your developments you can make imaginative, non-square buildings. There is plenty of land available, so it’ll be nice to see what you come up with.


      1. joedriver August 17, 2018 4:05 pm

        Ha, there really isn’t plenty of land available. You’d be surprised at what’s available. And you have to remember it’s all rock so Hundreds of thousands even millions of dollars just to get the ground ready wherever you do buy…commercial area


    3. joedriver August 17, 2018 3:54 pm

      My thoughts exactly. Cheap to construct and ugly to look at. Take a look at the new court house in Kona they sure didn’t follow those plans on that place. That’s what more of the buildings need to look like.


      1. KonaLife August 18, 2018 5:55 am

        Made with tax payer money, so no need to follow a reasonable budget or have rents that meet the marketplace. It was over $90 million for just that building. No private developer would spend that much on a building of that size here.


        1. joedriver August 18, 2018 10:15 am

          you’re wrong. Mauna Lani is spending more than that just to remodel the resort starting in October… Money is there it’s the rules and unwritten obstacles that keep others away.


          1. KonaLife August 18, 2018 11:13 am

            Yes, the rules are to make your developments fit the market, the ability to rent a place at a level that fits the local economy. We get what we got because that’s what we are. I love it when people complain about not getting the Hawaii they want. Want luxury architecture? There are places for that in the world. You won’t find them in either of our two zoned and labelled industrial areas. They are purposeful, pactical, and just what they should be. Perhaps you can look at Architecture Digest as you ride through them if you want to imagine you’re somewhere else


          2. Alex August 18, 2018 12:44 pm

            KonaLife, I agree that this is an industrial area, but Kaloko it is not just “any industrial area”. Due to its proximity to the airport it is an area most tourists will pass through as part of their vacation — on the way to the Palace, City of Refuge park, shopping etc. etc. “Industrial, purposeful, practical” is usually what people want to get away from when they go on their Hawaii vacation, no?

            Nobody said “luxury architecture”, but “thoughtful architecture”. These primitive oversized metal boxes are impacting our tourism product and will, if left unchecked, slowly kill the golden goose.


          3. KonaLife August 18, 2018 2:12 pm

            I really think you’re greatly exaggerating what you believe tourists want and pay attention to. They want the ocean. Check. They want beaches. Check. They want volcano experiences. Check. They want nice hotels that fit their budget. Check. They want good food. Check. They want industrial space that they pass on the way from the airport to the above fit some sort of aesthetic? Nope! I just don’t buy that the average tourist, especially the higher end tourists that go North out of the airport give a damn what our buildings that house small retail, light manufacturing, warehouses, furniture stores, ect look like. These are the same most cities, and would be expected. Oh, wait, those places also have billboards and neon flashing signs everywhere. I’d trade what we have for that any day. That said, you are free to make buildings that fit your aesthetic.

            Oh, and it is the “Kaloko Light Industrial Park.”


          4. Alex August 18, 2018 4:04 pm

            You are probably alone here. Tourists are human, too, and so their reaction to this kind of mechanical sprawl (and all the cars it brings with it !!!) is bound to be the same as Vesperados, Yupules, etc. High end tourists will not accept it, especially from cultures such as the Japanese or Europe, where more people are more visually sensitive than your average dude from Kansas. (Most they will go north out of the airport, but Typically will also come south to visit at least once during their trip to see the palace, Volcano, coffee country…)


          5. KonaLife August 18, 2018 4:32 pm

            I lived in both places, and I can tell you that Japan, in particular, has the most garish and architecturally mundane cities I’ve ever seen. Ugly, simply ugly cities, except for a few areas they’ve kept for tourists. Even Kyoto is ugly in it’s core areas. Europe has done a better job of keeping a Old World feel to it. Note, though, that European tourists are about 1% of tourists to Hawaii, and Japanese are about 20%. In the end, though, those buildings everyone seems to hate are there because they fit the needs of industrial space for Kona. Many of the warehouses, self-storage, light manufacturing and base yard businesses in the Old and Kaloko industrial areas don’t need or want what you do. It’s great to sit on a high horse and proclaim disdain for what is there, but the reality is it what it is, because that’s what our community is. if you believe we should all have more architecturally pleasing buildings, be prepared to pay more everything that comes out of them.


          6. Alex August 18, 2018 5:04 pm

            At least many Japanese cities have an excuse for their ugly rebuilt cores: Our fire bombing. (Not saying that that wasn’t inevitable as part of the all out war effort…) Koto was famously not bombed, and so its ugly core areas are limited to a few isolated areas — for example, around the station and to surrounding areas such as Uji shi. Other core areas such as Gion and the whole Karasuma area are village feel, with many old traditional “Machiya” houses. In any case, my initial concerns were based upon comments by on my Japanese extended family and friends who love Kona and come visit every few months. That’s when I pick them up and we end up going through the area.

            I believe that any decent architecture is a fusion of form & function. While we needlessly focus just on function and need (your, “fit the needs” of industrial space).


          7. KonaLife August 18, 2018 5:30 pm

            Almost none of the buildings today in Japanese cities date to the immediate Post-War era. Most of the buildings in the main cities are less than 40-50 years old, so the fire bombing has no connection to the modern metropolis’ lack of architectural panache. The Japanese sense of function for buildings has guided their cities. It makes for ugly cities, but that’s ok, because it works for them, just as our Old and Kaloko areas have worked for us.

            So, when Japanese come to Kona and drive down the highway, rubbernecked looking at the (makai) ocean, the few buildings they see on the mauka side are inconsequential to their experience


          8. Alex August 18, 2018 5:56 pm

            I agree that the actual buildings are mostly less than 40-50 years old, but that does not mean that the war is not the root cause of the loss of architectural integrity. It played a huge role. In both Japan and also in many Germany cities (Munich, Frankfurt…), once all the beautifully aligned traditional houses were burned, the pressure to rebuild quickly and house people meant that they were replaced with makeshift homes that were put together quickly, in distress. (I was born and grew up in one of these makeshift areas buildings.) Those later got replaced with the ugly “mansion” building you see today. It seems that once you loose the visual integrity of a city, it might never come back. But our situation is quite different. We started from largely scratch. So we don’t get the excuse.

            When I arrived in Kona from Honolulu first in 2003 I saw what you saw: Wide open spaces and the ocean. Now I see a sea of rental cars, a busy two lane highway, ugly trucks, NELHA concrete, nervous contractors running somewhere. If we had not defeated that Ooma Beachside village project, than even that ocean vistas would be gone my now.


          9. KonaLife August 19, 2018 5:16 pm

            I get it. We all want to be the last person to move here. We want things to be the way they were when we arrived, and anything that changes that idealized version of Hawaii is bad, especially if it’s new development or road. NIMBYism at its best.

            The reality is that those changes are fueled by a growing population, and they provide jobs to those who plan, build, maintain and work in them. Seems like you have a big list of things you don’t like about how Kona has developed. Don’t take this in the negative or condescending way, but perhaps this is not the right place for you. I guarantee you that we will continue to grow, and we’ll never go back to the days of one stop light, or before that, when Kailua Bay was a loading area for cattle ships.

            Just keep in mind, though, that in every building you don’t like, there is a small business owner providing goods and services to the community, and she is just trying to make a living.


          10. Alex August 19, 2018 5:40 pm

            NIMBYism? I don’t actually live in Kona any more. If I am guilty of anything, then it is loving too much. And I love the Aina there. And, no offense, but I think that the kind of raw, unrestricted capitalism hiding behind what’s going on in Kaloko and elsewhere is a major ingredient in the degradations of living environments. A friend of mine who moved away from his childhood home in Southern California remembers San Diego ineffectively trying to control how it would grow, and this ingredient took the form, “well, it’s not as bad as LA.” But look at it now! I pray that we will be better stewards of these lands. We must find a way to grow smart, not copy toxic mainland ways.


          11. joedriver August 25, 2018 7:36 am

            If you think anyone likes the look of those buildings you’re delusional. They exist for 1 reason only. Old zoning laws that allow fast cheap structures to be built with no rhyme or reason for shopping experiences. Fortunes were made selling land with little regard to aesthetics and local traditions. Double standards were adopted for industrial and residential use.


  2. fishman2 August 17, 2018 10:40 am

    It would be nice if the map were big enough to be readable.


    1. joedriver August 17, 2018 4:05 pm

      than we would all see what they’re taking about….not good.


  3. onceawarrior August 19, 2018 6:57 pm

    There is a need for coordinated conjunction of private infrastructure and needed public highway facilities. Basically, the County do not plan and develop a road system. The developer is required to build roads. However, the County control zoning and issue b


    1. Alex August 19, 2018 7:23 pm

      In addition to existing zoning, the county has a really nice mechanism, the General Plan and the individual community development plans for different areas of our isle. According to County Code, all longer range coordination should happen there, and that is also where the community will discuss and agree on its current and longer range needs. If coordination happens on a developer-to-department level, as it often does, then there might be is the concern that the county department in charge “takes care of the developer”, forcing neighbors and the general public into lengthy lawsuits once they discover what has happended after the fact, often after the money is in the ground.


      1. onceawarrior August 19, 2018 8:27 pm

        You make significantly valid points that describes the dysfunctional nature of our County government. It is very autocratic. Democratic participation is minimal. Only what is required by law. Advocacy is used by those with ways and means.
        If other residents have the civic interest as you do and participated before decisons are


  4. onceawarrior August 19, 2018 7:14 pm

    There also is a disjunction of cultural beliefs. Many neo settlers bring a different set of beliefs and suggest the adoption of them Many multi generational settlers are satisfied with non ostentatious architecture and are okay with that.


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