Koa Ridge project nearing final ruling

Koa Ridge project nearing final ruling

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

WAIPIO (HawaiiNewsNow) - The beauty of Koa Ridge carries as far as the eye can see. The farm land is green and growing.

In renderings it's a different vision.

Castle & Cooke wants to build on 575 acres in Central Oahu between Waipio and Mililani.

"We do know that there are impacts that a community like this will have," executive vice president Bruce Barrett said.

Koa Ridge will have 3,500 homes, a hospital, school, and retail and commercial space.

Critics say it comes at the cost of precious land.

"Koa Ridge is some of the best farm land in the state of Hawaii. It's been commercially viable and it's been producing food for people here in Hawaii for decades now," Sierra Club director Robert Harris said.

Castle & Cooke said it will relocate the farm off-property and double its size.

Barrett said the company will mitigate traffic tie-ups in and around the development.

"There will be a secondary entrance into the commercial area. And then there will be another interchange that we will construct," he said.

The developer promises thirty percent of the homes will be affordable with a $200,000 starting price.

Ann Freed of the Mililani-Waipio Neighborhood Board wants that price fixed so it doesn't shift.

"If the market goes up as it did in Mauka, we're talking $400,000, $500,000, $600,000 homes. Guess who's buying those homes at that price? Not local people," she said.

Castle & Cooke said it will take ten years to build the $2 billion development.

Barrett said the project will create about 1,000 construction jobs and 2,500 other jobs when it's finished.

"One of the things that's going to create jobs is the medical center," he said.

Next month the state Land Use Commission hears final arguments for re-classifying Koa Ridge from agriculture to urban use.

It's the last hurdle for Castle & Cooke and the last stand for those who want to keep the land the way it is.

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