Developer criticizes bidding process for Varona Village redevelopment

Developer criticizes bidding process for Varona Village redevelopment

EWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A well-known developer is criticizing the bidding process for a project to revitalize a former plantation community in Ewa. The city's plan to redevelop Varona Village is also falling behind schedule. The deadline for offers was March 31, but the city pushed the date back by more than two months at the request of a potential bidder, worrying some residents.

"I'm trying to be optimistic, at the same time, I can't help but feel that this is going to take longer and longer," said resident Michael Esquibil.

The city will evaluate the bidder's experience, development plan, pricing structure for current residents, and proposed sale price for the 26 acres. The last category troubles developer Peter Savio, who is teaming up with Habitat for Humanity to submit an offer. He says giving points for the city's compensation may lead to the selection of a bidder who will charge higher prices for new homes.

"We don't want to build $400,000, $500,00, $600,000 houses. I'd like to come in at the $150,00, $200,000, $250,000 range," said Savio, president of Savio Group of Companies. "Because I'm selling at the lowest price, I may not be able to pay the city the highest price for the land."

The tentative deadline for the city to finish evaluating the bids is August 8.

"We don't necessarily just want homes that are put there that are the cheapest. I think that there's a strong demand for quality homes at very reasonable prices," said city managing director Roy Amemiya.

Amemiya also said the city spent a lot of money fixing up communities in Ewa Villages.

"So to expect the city to continue to just give out, probably not something that is fair to all taxpayers," he said.

Savio hopes that the city changes the evaluation system to also reward developers offering the lowest prices for affordable homes.

"The city in this case shouldn't be looking at land price. They should be looking at how many local people are we going to be able to help?" Savio said.