Kukui Garden Residents Finally Have Reason to Celebrate - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kukui Garden Residents Finally Have Reason to Celebrate

Carol Anzai Carol Anzai
Representative Karl Rhoads Representative Karl Rhoads
Representative Kirk Caldwell Representative Kirk Caldwell
Dan Davidson Dan Davidson

By Stephen Florino

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The struggle to keep a Chinatown apartment complex affordable is coming to an end. A deal is in place to keep Kukui Gardens affordable for the next several decades.

"Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart," said Carol Anzai, resident and president of the Kukui Gardens Association.

A state House and Senate conference committee unanimously approved a bond deal to buy half of the 857-unit complex for $51 million -- $25 million to be funded this legislative session, and $26 million next year.

"It's a lot of money, but it's so much cheaper than what it would cost to build the place from scratch," said Rep. Karl Rhoads. "The numbers I've seen to build 857 units at $350 to $400 million."

The Carmel Partners, a mainland company, is buying the other half, but they've agreed to keep their units affordable for 55-years.

"Anything less than 857 affordable units was unacceptable," said Dan Davidson, director of the state housing finance and development corporation. "We would oppose any sale to Carmel that did not achieve that."

Many of those involved agree this took a team effort -- city councilmen, state representatives, state department officials, democrats and republicans. But it wouldn't have happened if the residents didn't fight for it.

"The real credit goes to all of you because really, without your support, and showing up at hearings, and talking to the Governor and talking to the senate and the house, it wouldn't have happened," said Rep. Kirk Caudwell, house majority leader.

If the state buys half the property, a non-profit group would manage it, and use the rent for maintenance. The plan must be approved by the full legislature next week.

Then it goes to Governor Lingle to sign into law.

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