Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 |
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Parker Ranch is exploring developing more affordable housing on the 175-year-old ranch’s lands in the coming years.
The South Kohala landowner announced it had recently signed a memorandum of understanding with affordable housing developer Highridge Costa to look into collaborating on projects that’ll add affordable, senior and workforce/agricultural housing units over the next five years in Waimea.
As currently proposed, between 150 and 260 affordable housing units would be developed in phases, should the two parties move forward. The first of those units, should all parts of the development process line up, could be ready for occupancy in late 2024-early 2025, at the earliest, said Jonathan Mitchell, vice president of land and asset management for Parker Ranch.
“The project areas that we’re currently evaluating with our partner, Highridge Costa, could include some parcels adjacent to the existing Waimea Elderly Housing, Queen’s North Hawaii (Community Hospital), and DHHL Kuhio Village,” he said. “And, we’re also looking at some areas that are on the other side, Lalamilo Farm Lots off of Mamalahoa.”
Finding just where the development will be positioned will be nailed down over the coming months.
“There will be some discussions with county agencies and the community to understand viability and really gather what the community wants,” explained Mitchell. “That’ll be something that Highridge Costa will probably take the lead on.”
Mitchell said rental rates would be based on United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) area median income (AMI) levels.
“Rental rates for a one bedroom/one bath will be in the range of $450 to $900 a month; a two bedroom/two bath is in the range of $550 to $1,200 a month,” he said. “And they could be looking at some other larger, three bedroom three bath but that’s still to be determined.”
According to the Hawaii County Office of Housing and Community Development’s 2019 Housing Planning Study, more than 10,000 affordable housing units are needed on the Big Island by 2025 for those earning 140% or less of the area’s median income.
The project won’t be Parker Ranch’s first affordable housing development as it worked with Hawaii County in the 1990s to develop Waimea Elderly Housing on Kamamalu Road. The ranch has also developed the market for-sale Luala‘i at Parker Ranch with nearly 300 homes.
It’s all part of long-standing Waimea Town Center Plan, formerly known as Parker Ranch 2020, which provides a long-term vision for the development of Parker Ranch lands, owned by the trustees of Parker Land Trust, while preserving the area’s character and paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) legacy.
“Parker Ranch is thrilled to be working with Highridge Costa to focus on property with the proper zoning and infrastructure to meet the critical demand for affordable housing,” Dutch Kuyper, president and CEO of Parker Ranch, Inc., said in a media release. “Parker Ranch will explore affordable housing opportunities that integrate with our sustainable community design, tying together walkable community concepts and open spaces. We are also considering working with Highridge Costa to address senior housing needs.”
Highridge Costa Housing Partners, LLC, is a developer based out Gardena, Calif., with a community portfolio that spans 34 states, including Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Among its planned or under construction projects in Hawaii are Palehua Terrace, Hale Moena Ohana and Hale Moena Kupuna on Oahu and the Hale Mahaolu Ke Kahua Affordable Housing Community on Maui.
“We are excited to be working with Parker Ranch, which is committed to addressing affordable housing in the community,” said Moe Mohanna, President at Highridge Costa Development. “We look forward to meeting with the community, getting the best ideas, and moving toward planning, funding, and breaking ground on future affordable housing.”
Parker Ranch and Highridge Costa will likely seek an exemption from completing an environmental assessment via the state’s 201H program, which allows developers to forego certain planning and construction guidelines so long as a certain percentage of the housing is made affordable.
“The development team, Highridge Costa, is committed to being a good steward and to completing whatever environmental and archaeological studies they need to, but I think with 201H, there’s exemptions that’ll help the project move forward,” said Mitchell.
When asked about other projects planned in the near future, including development’s like Luala‘i, Mitchell said Parker Ranch is “working on some other projects, but more information will be announced in the future.”
Parker Ranch is one of the largest and oldest cattle ranches in the United States. It currently oversees some 130,000 acres in upcountry South Kohala. Parker Ranch Inc. is wholly-owned by Parker Ranch Foundation Trust whose beneficiaries are four nonprofits: Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Parker School, and the Hawaii Community Foundation.
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