Share | |

There's Something About Maui

Residents protect their environment & culture but welcome new developments

The cafeteria at Hale Makua is full of seated diners waiting to be served. Some already have eaten, including the wheelchair-bound man parked by the courtyard outside the lunchroom. A nurse had spoon-fed him earlier. Hale Makua is a nonprofit organization offering foster care, a nursing home and rehabilitation services for elderly people on Maui. In the next year, there are plans to add an air-conditioned cafeteria, 30 more parking stalls and 15 more beds to the facility (in the year 2000, all of Maui county’s 200 nursing-home beds were filled).

The $2.5 million addition to Hale Makua, however, is just a temporary solution. Its executives and other community leaders are concerned about the future of Maui’s elderly and have formed the Maui Long Term Care Health Partnership, aimed at improving health care options for older adults by the year 2020.

Maui’s high-tech industry employs 1,000 and is on target to generate $121 million in gross annual sales this year. High technology lends itself to the tourism industry, as well. Case in point: Last year, visitors to the Maui High Performance Computing Center and its related conferences generated 10,200 visitor nights, or $10.2 million in overall sales.
* For more information about Maui’s high-tech industry, click here.

Although Maui county’s population of 128,000 is relatively young, with a median age of 36.8 years, more than 12 percent is 65 and older. This particular age group relies on Medicare, Medicaid and other government funds. It’s an unhealthy practice, as in the rest of the nation. "The [elderly] population is growing so fast that government reimbursements are not keeping up," says Tony Krieg, chief executive officer of Hale Makua. Roughly 12 percent of his nursing home clients either pay out-of-pocket or have long-term-care insurance. "No one wants to pay for elderly care, as long as the government still pays for it. We’re in for some hard times if we don’t change our mentality," he says.

Population and Economic Projections 1998-2025
Forecast Variables Historical 1998 Projected 2005 Projected 2010 Projected 2015 Projected 2020 Projected 2025

Population (in thousands) 122.1 128.6 136.4 144 151.2 158.7

Personal Income
(in milllions of 1992 dollars)
2,523.4 2,891.7 3,242.9 3,600.1 3,975.30 4,375.00

Total Civilian Jobs (in thousands) 73.7 83.3 94.1 99.1 106.9 114.9
Self-Employed Workers 15.7 18.1 19.7 21.2 22.6 23.9
Wage and Salary Employment 58 65.2 71.7 78 84.3 91

Average Daily Visitors (in thousands) 44.8 55.6 62.6 69 76 83.8

Maui’s Market Share of Average Daily Visitors
(in thousands)
28 28.4 28.5 28.6 28.7 28.8

# of Occupied Visitor Rooms 13,577 16,744 18,405 20,289 22,365 24,653

# of Visitor Rooms Demanded 18,650 20,419 22,309 24,593 26,946 29,702


Population by Age Group
Total Population 128,094
Under 5 8,579
5 to 9 yrs 9,079
10 to 17 yrs 9,336
18 to 21 yrs 8,658
22 to 24 yrs 6,970
25 to 34 yrs 17,723
35 to 44 yrs 21,891
45 to 54 yrs 19,823
55 to 59 yrs 6,599
60 to 64 yrs 4,807
65 to 74 yrs 7,715
75 to 84 yrs 5,272
85 yrs & older 1,642
Median Age 36.8
A World-Class Paradox
It’s hard to believe that this is the same Maui that draws hip, youth-oriented surfers and New Age, medical practitioners; the sophisticated Maui that hosts the annual Maui Film Festival and the Mercedes Championships Golf Tournament; geeky Maui, home of the world’s fastest supercomputer and a top-secret observatory atop Haleakala.

This tug-of-war between the old and new, present and future, mirrors challenges faced by the county. Maui enjoys its world-class reputation. But its people fight mundane problems, such as elderly care and congested highways. Posh resorts and gated communities dot the island like plastic pieces on a Monopoly board, yet the environment can only handle so much construction. Sustainable development is the key to a successful Maui. Uncontroll- able growth scares local residents, some of whom cannot even buy homes, simply because there are not enough affordable houses on Maui.

Sky-high home prices and the desperate need for new, multi-lane highways were issues that Mayor Alan Arakawa immediately faced after taking office in January. One of the first things his new administration did was to halt a handful of permits that had been approved by the previous government. Residential projects at Maliko Point and Palauea Bay, for example.

"There are rumors that we’re trying to stop development, but that is absolutely incorrect," the mayor says. "What we did was stop developments that were allowed to process improperly. At the end of the last administration, a flurry of permits was passed. We looked into them because there were complaints, and what we found were permits that were not done under the normal process." Everyone must play by the rules, he says.

Real Estate Sales Volume By Month
2001 Single Family Condo Land
January 72 129 30
February 61 104 32
March 96 143 39
April 78 130 28
May 102 138 34
June 125 130 32
July 84 112 53
August 106 136 37
September 76 80 23
October 75 104 20
November 61 71 21
December 69 72 19
2002 Single Family Condo Land
January 63 70 15
February 65 111 14
March 77 131 34
April 85 133 42
May 87 145 36
June 79 151 39
July 110 145 31
August 80 143 37
September 74 141 48
October 95 138 50
November 91 123 29
December 81 131 26
2003 Single Family Condo Land
January 62 75 26
February 67 113 21
March 77 116 32
April - - -
May - - -
June - - -
July - - -
August - - -
September - - -
October - - -
November - - -
December - - -
SOURCE: Realtors Association of Maui

Real Estate Sales Median By Month
2001 Single
Condo Land
January $310,760 $194,000 $304,450
February $310,000 $218,000 $244,500
March $351,250 $185,000 $250,000
April $325,000 $181,750 $183,480
May $270,000 $212,500 $199,250
June $293,000 $191,000 $260,000
July $265,000 $247,500 $210,000
August $258,750 $182,000 $250,000
September $265,000 $194,750 $220,000
October $270,000 $167,250 $248,500
November $358,500 $212,000 $315,000
December $304,000 $176,000 $235,000
2002 Single
Condo Land
January $310,000 $191,000 $262,760
February $367,000 $245,000 $315,000
March $400,000 $238,000 $287,500
April $375,000 $225,000 $301,501
May $369,000 $199,000 $237,760
June $365,000 $187,975 $200,000
July $375,000 $215,000 $205,000
August $352,000 $179,000 $310,000
September $437,000 $159,000 $264,000
October $392,440 $205,000 $284,775
November $392,000 $168,000 $242,500
December $400,000 $220,500 $355,000
2003 Single
Condo Land
January $389,500 $225,000 $280,000
February $400,000 $275,000 $308,000
March $430,000 $220,000 $267,250
April - - -
May - - -
June - - -
July - - -
August - - -
September - - -
October - - -
November - - -
December - - -
SOURCE: Realtors Association of Maui

To monitor Maui’s growth, the mayor’s team and the Office of Economic Development have created a new group called the Business Advocacy Task Force. Its goals are to: attract and retain local workers; form partnerships with other economic organizations; and improve the overall health of Maui county. Again, the key is sustainable development. "We can assure that we won’t ruin our justification as the world’s best island destination by overdeveloping areas that are sensitive and should not be developed," Arakawa says. "It’s very critical for us to keep up with our infrastructure." He adds: "We’ll develop in areas, such as affordable housing."

Housing for the Masses
Now, the term "affordable housing" is relative. What may be cheap to some Maui buyers, may be off-limits to others. Realtors last year sold 978 single-family units, at an average price of $491,248, up from $404,971 in 2001. The median price – a more accurate indicator of the housing market – in 2002 was $375,000, up from $295,000 the year before. To boost the inventory of budget-friendly homes, the county government requires developers to include a 10 percent mix of affordable units per residential community.

INFRASTRUCTURE: Highway Handouts
To alleviate traffic jams on Maui, the Hawaii state government on March 28 allocated $8.88 million for the following road-widening projects.
  • $4.21 million for Puunene Avenue and Mokulele Highway from two to four lanes
  • $1.38 million for Haleakala Highway
  • $3.292 million for Mokulele Highway, between Kolaloa Bridge and the Maui Humane Society
  • In addition, a total of $38.3 million in federal funds was set aside for these three projects

Take for example, Kaanapali 2020, a 1,154-acre community that will be built in phases over the next 30 years. Affordable homes are part of this master plan, designed as separate villages where residents live, shop, work and play. Schools, an 18-hole golf course, and a medical and cultural center are in the blueprints.

Another community that will offer affordable housing is Wailea 670, a complex comprised of 1,400 single-family and multiple-family residences. It originally was intended for high-end, luxury dwellings, however, developers also plan to build smaller units, between $175,000 and $300,000 each. Wailea 670 will have five, 100,000-square-foot commercial complexes, so that residents do not have to leave the subdivision to run personal errands. "If we can keep people inside this community and solve traffic issues, that’s the only way you can solve the infrastructure problem," says Charlie Jencks, owners’ representative for Wailea 670 Associates.

Traffic snarls on Piilani Highway occur almost daily in this part of Maui. That is why Wailea 670 developers have volunteered to pay a traffic-impact fee of $5,000 per housing unit. They and the developers of Makena Resort Corp. (another proposed project) also have contributed $750,000 to pay for Piilani Highway’s new design. Goodfellow Bros. was awarded the construction bid and is expanding the highway from three lanes to four.

TENANTS WANTED: Piilani Gardens, a 200, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment complex, will begin accepting rental applications in June. It is next to a day-care facility and sprawling shopping complex.
Photo: Cathy S. Cruz

Piilani Gardens, located along that same roadway, is a rentals-only apartment scheduled to open its first, 12-unit building in June. When completed in the next year, the apartment complex will comprise 200, two-bedroom, two-bathroom units, measuring 800 square feet each. Not only is the apartment complex a quick drive from the Maui High Tech Park and the posh resort town Wailea, but it also is next to an onsite child-day care center and across the street from Piilani Village Shopping Center in Kihei. Property managers say they will start accepting rental applications, beginning in June.

Invincible or Vulnerable?
Several miles away from the Piilani apartment complex, the Outrigger Wailea’s general manager is all smiles. A 300-person incentive group had cancelled its trip to Spain at the last minute and booked at his Maui property instead. Other Maui resorts share similar stories. "We’re seeing some travel plans changing, where people were going to Europe and Asia," says Dorsey Brady, the general manager. "Now, with SARS [Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome], Asia travel has fallen dramatically." The hotel had double-digit growth in the first two months of 2002.

TOURISM: 2002 Visitor Arrivals
Last year, Maui hosted 2,089,287 visitors, roughly 2 percent more than the year 2001. Molokai’s visitor arrivals (100,245) increased by an impressive 42.7 percent, while Lanai’s arrivals (112,477) jumped by 32.5 percent.

Part of that good fortune stems from the resort’s new partnership with Marriott International Inc. Last January, the Outrigger Wailea and its sister property, the Outrigger Waikoloa Beach Resort on the Big Island, bought the Marriott franchise. The resorts still are owned and managed by Outrigger, however, they now piggyback off Marriott Rewards, a frequent-stay program serving 17 million members worldwide. "We found clients making decisions based on brand," Brady says.

Maui and neighboring islands Molokai and Lanai began this year on a positive note. Year-to-date arrivals for January and February were: Maui, 10.2 percent more than the same period in 2001; Lanai, +23.9 percent; and Molokai, +34.6 percent.

Monthly Visitor Arrivals

But Maui’s tourism has not always been so rosy. Marsha Weinert, executive director of the Maui Visitors Bureau, cringes as she remembers how visitor arrivals plunged 10 percent in the months after Sept. 11, 2001. Following the September terrorist attacks, visitor arrivals plunged again when dozens of Maui residents fell sick to mosquitoes carrying the dengue-fever virus. "Having that kind of decrease in visitor arrivals in a short amount of time was devastating," Weinert recalls about the back-to-back blows. "We saw very quickly how visitor arrivals affected all aspects of our economy." The dengue-fever outbreak was temporary, but it was enough to drive away tourists through the middle of 2002.

The Iraq war last March also was temporary. Although it halted airline and hotel bookings, visitor arrivals climbed in the month of March – much to the industry’s surprise. Maui’s arrivals jumped by a mere 1.7 percent, compared to March 2001. Arrivals to Lanai increased by 29.1 percent, while Molokai’s arrivals grew by 5.3 percent. "We are getting nice day trips to Molokai and Lanai," Weinert says.

HEALTHY DOSE OF TOURISTS: In September, the Wailea resort will host the inaugural MauiLife Fest, a three-day event dedicated to health and alternative-wellness products and services.
PHOTO COURTESY: Outrigger Wailea Resort, a Marriott International franchise

She’s right. In fact, it was the third positive month for Molokai, despite two cruise-ship companies canceling inaugural visits to the island. Princess Cruises and Holland America Line Inc. both had called off the visits after environmental activists voiced concerns. The visits had been scheduled for April.

It was clear that Molokai’s 7,200-plus residents were not ready to accommodate hundreds of cruise-ship passengers. "The whole idea of cruise ships divided the community there," Weinert says. "They need to decide together whether they want to embrace that kind of market or not." Perhaps it is that kind of collaboration that makes Maui county so unique.

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

Add your comment:


Don't Miss an Issue!
Hawaii Business,June