By Andrew Gomes; Star Advertiser
Longtime Hawaii housing developer Gentry Homes is planning to build the first homes at the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station in Kalaeloa since the base closed in 1999.
The company has a preliminary plan to develop 389 residences on 30 acres between Barbers Point Elementary School on the former base and a business park in neighboring Kapolei, makai of Costco in Kapolei and mauka of a solar farm on a Department of Hawaiian Home Lands site in Kalaeloa.
Gentry’s project represents an initial residential subdivision under a master plan drafted by major Kalaeloa landowner Hunt Cos., which acquired much of the former base from the Navy in 2009 and has arranged to sell the 30 acres to Gentry.
“This is truly an exciting day for us,” Thomas Lee, Hunt’s senior vice president of development in Hawaii, said during a presentation Wednesday to the Hawaii Community Development Authority board regulating development in Kalaeloa.
Lee called Gentry’s project a one-of-a-kind community for local families in a transforming area that in recent decades has been known as a dumping ground dotted by vandalized empty old base buildings, along with clusters of businesses and renovated base housing.
“We’ve come a long way since then,” Lee said.
Quentin Machida, Gentry president and CEO, said the company aims to sell the envisioned homes for roughly between the mid-$500,000s and high-$700,000s.
HCDA has a requirement that 20% of all new residential floor area in Kalaeloa be reserved and priced for households earning up to 140% of Honolulu’s annual median income, which equates to $176,260 for a family of four. Market-priced housing in Kalaeloa is likely below the maximum allowed under the affordable- housing requirement.
The mix of homes envisioned by Gentry is 174 townhome condominiums and 150 single-family residences on lots owned collectively under a condo property regime with two, three and four bedrooms.
Four neighborhood parks are also planned in the community, and a medical office building is planned on an adjacent Hunt site.
Site work is projected to begin next year followed by delivery of initial homes in 2023 if permitting and other work proceeds without trouble.
Machida said the project represents a new chapter for Gentry, which was established in 1968 and has built about 14,000 homes in Hawaii predominantly for the working class on Oahu, including Ewa by Gentry and Waipio Gentry.
“We take great pride in building quality homes for local families that live and work in our community,” he said.
Michael “Mick” Ferreira, a member of the Makakilo/ Kapolei/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board, said redeveloping Kalaeloa and addressing the blight and deterioration there has been a long time coming.
Ferreira has concerns about traffic mitigation and proximity of Kalaeloa Airport, but welcomes the addition of housing to the largely industrial area.
“I applaud residential development to create housing opportunities for our island people so long as it does not displace any more agricultural land,” he said in an email.
Hunt has a master plan to add 4,000 new homes, retail, light-industrial businesses and recreational spaces to 540 acres it owns in Kalaeloa.
The Texas-based company acquired the property from the Navy as compensation for improving and expanding military housing in Hawaii.
Other parts of the 3,700-acre former base, which includes the airport, were given to the state and city. The Navy also retained some land that includes Barbers Point Golf Course.
Hunt unveiled its master plan in 2013. Since then the company converted an abandoned barracks building into 100 affordable rental apartments in 2015 and acquired former Navy water and wastewater systems in 2017. Roughly 70 businesses employing about 500 people also have moved onto Hunt property.
Land slated for Gentry’s project and nearby areas were once largely filled with military housing during much of the time the base was operating. Those homes, however, were not well maintained by the Navy, and most were demolished.
Hunt estimated that it will cost about $40 million to improve former Navy roads within and near the Gentry project, which would include reconfiguring some roads and also adding sidewalks, storm drains and landscaping.