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Plans Include Resort's Own Airstrip

Coastal resort planned for Hawaii's Big Island

Andrew Gomes,  Sep 15, 2009

Plans are being revived by an Oahu contractor for a coastal resort near South Point in the Kau district of the Big Island, Hawaii. Val Peroff, head of SteelTech, Inc., is preparing an environmental impact statement for the project envisioned for up to 1,970 homes or residential lots, 950 resort hotel or condominium units, a 36-hole golf course, and an airstrip. The developer also said it hopes to power the project with alternative energy if feasible.

No cost estimate was included, but the developer hopes to begin construction in 2012 and substantially complete Kahuku Villages in three phases over 10 years. To proceed, the project would need state Land Use Commission approval, a county zoning change, and other permits. Prior Land Use Commission approvals are no longer valid on the property, which is classified for agriculture and conservation use. The developer plans to petition the commission to reclassify about 4,760 acres, or 29 percent, of the property, for urban and rural use, including 3,670 acres of conservation land.

A shoreline preserve, land for agriculture or renewable energy production, a commercial village with schools, and a cultural research and demonstration center are also part of the plan, called Kahuku Villages, slated for the site covering 16,457 acres, or nearly 26 square miles, of mostly barren lava.

Hilo resident Gil Kahele, who challenged the Hawaiian Riviera project as head of community group Pa'a Pono Miloli'i, said he still has concerns about cultural and natural resources on the property and also questions building in an area that could be threatened by lava. He said he looks forward to a thorough environmental review and will reserve comment on Kahuku Villages until more details are available. Kahele did note that considerable opposition to the earlier project surrounded the marina, not a feature of Kahuku Villages.

Most of the land is lava with pockets of vegetation, including an ohia forest. Pohue Bay along the property's shoreline is a site used by researchers trying to protect the endangered hawksbill turtle under a wildlife restoration project. The inland half of the property is next to Hawaiian Ocean View Ranchos, a mostly undeveloped subdivision of 1,229 residential lots. Further inland is the 10,697-lot subdivision Hawaiian Ocean View Estates that is more developed.

A "low-key" resort would be the project's economic linchpin and is aimed at visitors seeking a remote get-away with opportunities to learn about turtle habitat and pre-contact Hawaiian cultural practices. "Although there may be some transient accommodations of higher exclusivity, there will also be eco-lodges (tentalows or cabins) affordable to the general public," the filing said.

Coastal resort planned for Hawaii's Big Island
Mahana Bay, aka Green Sand Beach, South Point, Big Island / Image via

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