Major mixed-use plan marches forward

 West Hawaii Today | Monday, April 29, 2019 

KAILUA-KONA — A development carrying about 300 residences and more than 200 hotel rooms passed a major milestone earlier this month when the county’s Planning Department determined the $65 million project won’t have significant environmental impacts on the area.

The final environmental assessment for the Liliuokalani Trust’s Makalapua Project District also outlines a new road network for the planned mixed-use development, which its advocates expect will offer residents a new space in which to work, live, shop and play.

“It’s like everything’s right there. You don’t necessarily need to have a car if that’s the type of livable space you can look for,” said Kirstin Kahaloa, a member of the community advisory group of Liliuokalani Trust, which owns the more-than-67 acres that make up the project site. “And of course the opportunity to add more housing, especially a different type of housing that we’re not necessarily used to seeing in West Hawaii, I think that’s very exciting.”

There are still some approvals needed on the county level, and Michael Shibata, director of real estate at the Liliuokalani Trust said they anticipate starting to break ground in 2021. The project will be developed over 15 years with a “significant portion” expected to be completed within the first 10.

The Liliuokalani Trust owns about 6,200 acres throughout Hawaii, the vast majority of which is on Hawaii Island. Its properties include the Kona Industrial Park (just east of the project area) and the fee interest in five shopping centers, such as Kona Commons, which is just mauka of the project site.

Unlike those other properties, the Makalapua Project District is a new approach for the trust, said Shibata.

“People love to see retail on the ground floor with residential above,” he said. “You don’t really see it too often, but it’s successful in various places.”

A key aim identified in project documents is to meet the area’s rising housing need while also offering commercial and recreational opportunities.

Census estimates put Hawaii County at the top for population growth in the state, with growth expected to continue. The project’s environmental assessment cited state data anticipating the island’s population to grow by 59.8 percent between 2010 and 2040, compared to 25.3 statewide.

The Makalapua Project District will include about 300 residential units, along with 220 rooms across two hotels in addition to commercial and recreational space.

Kahaloa said she believes the project is one that is “definitely for the community and for residents.”

“And it’s going to serve visitors as well, but that is, to me, not the point,” she said. “It’s about having opportunities, again, for safe, fun places for our community — families, parents, keiki — to come together really to live, work and play.”

Shibata said the aesthetics are still being worked out, but they want to keep it authentic with the region.

“So I think a part of it is being respectful to culture, place, and obviously the desire is we want to do a great job in doing it and getting it right,” he said. “So, I think that will be very key in terms of establishing proper place-making and creating that look and feel that reads that this project is from here.”

The project also emphasizes its walkability, with Makala Boulevard envisioned as a “walkable main street with on-street parking, serving as the focus for pedestrian-oriented retail, social activity and public strolling within the project district.”

The road network plans outlined in these latest documents are substantially different than what was included in the draft environmental assessment published in March 2017. While the original plan extended Pawai Place east through the project area, that plan was replaced in the final document with a plan to run Kuakini Highway east along its current alignment before bending mauka around the project area.

The final plan also adds two more east-west streets on either side of an extended Maa Way as well as additional mauka-makai roadways in the project area.

There are still some approvals needed before the project can move forward, including petitioning for a boundary amendment to redesignate a little less than 15 acres in the state’s agricultural district to urban, like the rest of the site. Because it involves less than 15 acres, that can be processed at the county level with final approval up to the County Council.

Councilmember’s would also have to OK a county zoning change for the area, which is currently considered general industrial, industrial-commercial mixed and agricultural. Liliuokalani Trust plans to request the zoning be changed to project district, which would allow for a “flexible, creative, planning approach instead of specific land use designations.”

The project will also require the filing of a planned unit development application and special management area use permit, both of which would need the approval of the county’s Leeward Planning Commission.

Shibata said they plan to pursue all of those approvals on the same timeline and they’re hoping to submit their applications in the third quarter of this year.



May 16, 2017

Liliʻuokalani Trust Selects DFJ for the Makalapua Project District in Kona, Hawaiʻi Planning & development for the largest mixed-use center on the Island of Hawaiʻi now underway

KAILUA-KONA, ISLAND OF HAWAIʻI – The Liliʻuokalani Trust (LT) today announced the selection of a developer for the transformation of 69 acres in Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawaiʻi into a vibrant hub of activity anchored by retail, entertainment, residential, hospitality uses and open space.

Following a thorough process that started in late 2016, Liliʻuokalani Trust has selected the partnership of DiGeronimo Companies, Fairmount Properties and Los Angeles-based JCI Development, Inc. (DFJ) to develop the Makalapua Project District. “We sought an organization that will help us create a long-term revenue stream to fulfill our commitment to improving the lives of Hawaiian children. In DFJ, we have not only found a highly capable developer but also an organization that shares our values,” said Robert H. Ozaki, President and CEO of the Trust.

“It is a tremendous honor to be selected by Liliʻuokalani Trust in its efforts to develop, enhance and refine such a strategic property. We understand the gravity and importance of the faith placed in us and are fully prepared to bring the Trust’s vision to reality” said Emerick Corsi, Principal at Fairmount Properties. Kevin DiGeronimo, Principal at the DiGeronimo Companies, added, “We are committed to creating a plan with the Trust that puts the land first, provides jobs, and honors the cultural legacy of Kona.”

The Makalapua Project District, bordering the Kona Commons Shopping Center and Kailua Park (Old Airport Park), is in alignment with the Kona Community Development Plan and encourages safe and smart growth in the area. The mixed-use project includes 300 residential units, 220 hotel rooms split between two hotels, 470,000 square feet of commercial space and 50,000 square feet of civic uses.

Entitlements for the project providing flexibility in uses in order to match market needs and demands are expected to be completed this year. “The land of Keahuolū unites the Trust and Kona. Our futures are tied together. The revenue generated by this project will contribute to growth of the local economy and provide a long-term stable source of income for our charitable programs,” said LeeAnn Crabbe, Vice President of Liliʻuokalani Trust. 

Liliʻuokalani Trust and DFJ have started working together to refine the site plan, create the look and feel of the project, and identify key anchor tenants. “We applaud Liliʻuokalani Trust for their vision on this unprecedented development opportunity. We look forward to executing that vision and creating a world-class project celebrating Kona and the greater Hawaiian marketplace,” said Jeff Isenstadt, President of JCI Development.

Lili‘uokalani Trust owns approximately 6,400 acres of Hawai‘i real estate, the vast majority of it located on the Island of Hawai‘i. On Hawai‘i Island, properties include the nearly-intact 3,400-acre ahupua‘a of Keahuolū in Kona, and the 2,800-acre agricultural and conservation lands of Honohina on the windward side.

The Trust’s 700-acres of Kona commercial properties include the Kona Industrial Park and five shopping centers. The Kona Industrial Park consists of 77 acres and includes the leased-fee interests in 45 industrial lots and the fee-simple interests in the Kuakini Center and B&K Commercial Park. Lili‘uokalani Trust also owns the leased-fee interest in five shopping centers – Makalapua Shopping Center (202,902 s/f Gross Leasable Area), Kona Commons Shopping Center (144,116 s/f GLA), Kona Coast Shopping Center (84,111 s/f GLA), Ilima Court (38,700 s/f GLA), and Kona International Marketplace (34,551 s/f GLA).

About Liliʻuokalani Trust

Lili‘uokalani Trust was established by Hawaiʻi’s last ruling monarch, the beloved Queen Lili‘uokalani. Her Deed of Trust, executed in 1909, directs that the Queen’s lands be utilized to serve and provide for orphan and destitute children in perpetuity. The core Trust assets include some 6,400 acres of land.

The vision of Liliʻuokalani Trust is e nā kamalei lupalupa, “Thriving Hawaiian Children.” Its mission: “We believe in the resiliency of our Hawaiian children; we advocate and work towards systemic change for their wellbeing and build them pathways to thriving lives.”  More information on the Trust and its activities can be found at

About DFJ

DFJ is a formalized partnership building upon decades of business and personal relationships between the three organizations: DiGeronimo Companies, Fairmount Properties, and JCI Development.  Our partner companies are well-respected industry leaders in mixed-use real estate development as well as the construction industry throughout the U.S.  More information on our companies is available at our websites –;;