The proposed condominium at 75-6150 Alii Drive is not your typical “Welcome to your Hawaii vacation” venue. There will be no Hawaiian cultural references, no tropical colors and textures, not even a palm tree to welcome you to what is predominately a residential neighborhood and beloved surfing, fishing, and family ocean access. It is instead, an overbearing, hard-edged, industrial edifice of steel, mirrored glass, and stone, very much like the new Kona Brew building on Kuakini Highway.
Zoning allows for a structure 45 feet above grade, but the configuration of the lot will allow the building to approach 50 feet above the surrounding two-story homes and the small eight-unit Ala Ka La condominium. Characterized as an example of “… an opportunity to renew stewardship” the proposed building will feel like a current architectural was transported from downtown Seattle to our once-sleepy village. While I recognize the property owner’s right to utilize their land to it’s highest and best use, this out-of-place faddish example will be a life-long blemish in our Alii Drive scenic corridor.
The large areas of glass will reflect sunlight into surrounding homes, block breezes from both mauka and makai, and remain as a monument to monied outside interests over local considerations for a lifetime. The design needs to be revised to fit into its immediate environment, while still offering the owner the opportunity to provide the six units allowed by the current zoning allowance. As a side note, the plans as submitted in the special management area application actually depicts eight units. On that basis alone, this application must be rejected by the commission, and sent back to the applicant for an accurate submittal that will allow the public, and the commission to make an informed decision … and no, “Oh, it’s just a minor drawing mistake” does not suffice.
We have the right, and the Planning Department has the responsibility, to ensure that the citizens of Kailua-Kona, and the Leeward Planning Commission are presented with accurate information on which to base their decisions.
For greater application detail comments, visit http://aolehawaiiimperial.com. Also, survey conflicts mentioned in the May article have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.
George “Smitty” Smith is president of the Ala Ka La Association of Apartment Owners.