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Move-ins start at

new affordable rental complex

on Oahu's Leeward Coast

Jan 20, 2021, 6:23pm EST 
Credit:  Pacific Business News

About 22 families have started to move in to Hale O Makana Maili, a 52-unit affordable rental project for low-income tenants in Leeward Oahu that spurred protest and a lawsuit from neighboring residents as well as a new city rule that could affect all affordable housing projects on Oahu going forward.

The project has 13 one-bedroom, one-bath units, 31 two-bedroom, one-bath units and seven three bedroom, two-bath units for tenants making no more than 30%, 50% or 60% of the area median income, as well as a manager's unit, in six two-story garden-style buildings on 1.95 acres of a 2.78-acre parcel.  The complex also includes a manager's office, a community resource center, a multi-purpose room with a mural by Pow! Wow! Hawaii artist Kamea Hadar, a community kitchen, community lounge and laundry facility.  The grounds include opera space, a playground, electric-vehicle charging station and bicycle storage stalls.

The project went through three years of vetting, review and scouting by state and city agencies and two neighborhood boards to comply with the sate's 201H affordable housing process administered by the Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corp., Kali Watson, president and CEO of the nonprofit Hawaiian Community Development Board, which partnered with Pacific Development Group and 3 Leaf Holding on the 22.7 million project, has said.

"During these extremely challenging times, the need for affordable housing becomes even more critical," Watson said in a statement.  "It takes a collective effort and commitment between government and the private sector for projects like Hale Makna O Maili to become a reality."

More than 300 families applied for units, with some 90% from the surrounding areas.  The remaining tenants will move in by the end of this month.

The project was nearly sidelined by a lawsuit filed by a neighborhood group seeking to halt the project in late 2019.  A 1st Circuit Court judged ruled in favor of the project in August and the neighborhood group is now appealing the lower court's ruling.

Former Honolulu City Councilmember Kymberly Pine last fall then introduced Resolution 20-178, which requires the Department of Planning and Permitting to enforce a rule requiring developers seeking to build affordable housing under 201H to mail notifications of all property owners within 400 feet of the project.

Watson and other developers testified that the rule would create more hurdles to building affordable housing by adding additional costs and time.  Despite that, the full Honolulu City Council adopted the resolution on Dec. 9, and DPP has 60 days to adopt the new rule, which puts it around Feb. 7.

The complex is managed by Mark Development Inc., with Hawaiian Community Assets providing social services.  The project was designed by AHL, formally known as Architects Hawaii Ltd., built by Moss Consruction and financed with low-income housing tax credits allocated by the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., the City and County of Honolulu's Affordable Housing Program, the National Housing Trust Fund, Bank of Hawaii and Hunt Capital Partners.

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