The Aging Process

This development team is planning a campus-style retirement community in Kapolei

April, 2003

Regina Kirchner, 80, visited Springfield Village last year and was blown away by the Virginia-based retirement community. There were gourmet dining halls, climate-controlled walkways and other hotel-style amenities. “It was very homelike, and you felt pampered,” she says. Kirchner, who has a Ph.D. in education, especially was impressed with the college-level courses offered to residents. “There is always something going on, so that you don’t become a vegetable.”

A new, local developer is planning a similar, 40-acre, continuing-care retirement community in Kapolei city. The developer, Hawaii Village Associates Inc., comprised of half-a-dozen local and U.S. mainland investors, has signed an agreement with Campbell Estate to build a campus-style community for Hawaii seniors (65 years and older). The community, Luana Koa, will be the largest community in the state to offer comprehensive care for seniors with various mental and physical conditions.

Scheduled for occupancy in 2005, it will have about 200 independent-living cottages and apartments, a 32-bed, skilled-nursing facility and a 28-unit, assisted-living area for those who need personal assistance 24 hours a day.

That is just the first construction phase, estimated at $70 million. Once future construction phases are confirmed, Luana Koa’s master plan will include up to 850 units for as many as 1,500 residents. A rehabilitation center and on-site health clinic are part of the plan.

“This was my vision from 20 years ago,” says Nancy Schoocraft, president of Hawaii Village Associates. “I was hoping to bring a team together that was really on the same mission.”

  • The Luana Koa retirement community will boast hotel-like amenities, but the fees will not reflect that. Monthly rent will be between $1,300 and $2,300; and residents will pay a 100 percent refundable fee of $195,000 to $475,000. The fee will be refundable should a resident leave or pass away.
  • Luana Koa will include a special community for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia. There were 13,040 Alzheimer’s cases in Hawaii in 2000, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That number is expected to rise 224 percent to 42,219 by the year 2025 – the highest increase in the nation, followed by Alaska (189 percent).

Hawaii Village Associates’ core team is Kenneth Chong, an executive of Kaiser Development Co. for 26 years; and Craig Witz, who previously worked for Life Care Services Inc. The executives say they are seeking a joint-venture partner and tax-exempt revenue bond financing. “The major investors are really a group of us who have front-ended the effort,” says Chong, who also is president of the Hawaii Developers Council. “What we’re doing is providing the seed capital, the time and effort to bring this to reality. But we still need an additional investor.”

At the time of this writing, the team was talking with five potential joint-venture partners. The negotiations came at a crucial time, when local media were uncovering stories of elderly abuse, long-term-care shortages and federal health care cuts.

Over the past decade, Hawaii’s 65-and-older population grew 28.5 percent. That age group will comprise 18 percent of the state’s total population by 2020. Luana Koa’s developers hope that by then, the Kapolei retirement community will be fully constructed and operational. “This is not just a real estate project, it’s all about service to a group of people at a vulnerable point in their lives,” Schoocraft says.

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Cathy S. Cruz