Environmental Impact Statement Advances $1B Mixed-Use Compound in Hawaii

DW 'Aina Le'a Development L.L.C., developer of the $1 billion The Villages of 'Aina Le'a on the South Kohala Coast in Hawaii, can rest easy now that the County of Hawaii Planning Department has accepted the final Environmental Impact Statement for the master-planned community.

October 26, 2010
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

DW ‘Aina Le’a Development L.L.C., developer of the $1 billion The Villages of ‘Aina Le’a on the South Kohala Coast in Hawaii, can rest easy now that the County of Hawaii Planning Department has accepted the final Environmental Impact Statement for the master planned community.

When all is said and done, the residential segment of The Villages will encompass 2,350 homes, including 1,050 multifamily units, 500 affordable/workforce housing units and 800 single-family residences. The sprawling 1,100-acre development will also offer 460,000 square feet of retail space, as well public school sites, golf courses, medical facilities, athletic fields, walking and biking trails and 37 acres of parks and open space.

With the Planning Department having signed off on the three-year statement, DW can begin development of a new signalized intersection to accommodate The Villages, and The Mauna Lani Resort, a popular destination that sits just across the street. Additionally, the final EIS paves the way for the developer to pursue permits for the installation of a wastewater treatment plant to accommodate the needs of The Villages’ residents and visitors.

The project will be developed in phases, the first of which, Lulana Gardens, is already underway. Lulana Gardens will offer 432 three- and four-bedroom townhomes that buyers can acquire under the County of Hawaii’s affordable pricing guidelines. The homes are being marketed for purchase in groups of 16 and first-time homebuyers are being given preference. Lulana Gardens is being partially financed through Capital Asia, which, in an agreement with DW in 2009, committed to raising a minimum of $62 million for this first phase of The Villages.

DW may not have to wait very long to complete the sales process, as the demand for townhomes in the area is on the rise. According to Hawaii Information Service, from September 2009 to September 2010, condominium sales jumped 25 percent. The developer

Residents of the Big Island are welcoming the entire Villages development with open arms. As per a survey conducted over the summer by SMS Research & Marketing Services Inc., 74 percent of residents back the project as a centerpiece of the South Kohala Community Development Plan. In terms of housing accommodations, the survey of 400 residents found that 52 percent believe that the housing supply is insufficient.

DW anticipates that it will take five to seven years for The Villages to reach full build-out.