Maui News

Vacation rentals evicted from Kīhei Marketplace redevelopment plans

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A variety of signs compete for passers-by attention at Kīhei Marketplace on Tuesday afternoon along a busy South Kīhei Road. A proposal to include transient vacation rentals in the redevelopment of the Kīhei Marketplace drew strong community opposition and led to switching plans for all residential units to be developed as long-term housing for residents. PC: Brian Perry

A redevelopment project to beautify the rundown Kīhei Marketplace ran into strong community opposition Tuesday before the Maui Planning Commission with dozens of testifiers irked about plans for 13 transient vacation rentals.

Commissioners received 56 pieces of written testimony and heard from more than a half-dozen testifiers, the vast majority opposed to Kīhei Marketplace LLC’s plans for vacation rentals. The developer sought a special management area permit to demolish existing structures and construct buildings for retail outlets, two restaurants, vacation and long-term rentals and parking. The “hard no,” as one testifier put it, from the community was overwhelmingly to the project’s proposal for vacation rentals.

Community activist Kai Nishiki said project developers should “read the room” and see that current public sentiment is strongly in favor of phasing-out vacation rentals. “We need long-term housing,” she said.

Longtime Kīhei resident Amanda Beth Goodell said she’s “appalled” at plans for new vacation rentals on South Kīhei Road.

“Does the wave facility need to go? Yes,” she said. “Could the space be used for retail? Absolutely. But adding more vacation rentals, especially with the housing crisis at its peak, is short-sighted and honestly infuriating.”

  • Plans for redevelopment of the Kihei Marketplace include news restaurants, commercial space and now long-term residential housing. PC: Brian Perry
  • Wood carvings compete for shoppers’ attention at Kihei Marketplace on Tuesday afternoon. PC: Brian Perry
  • A sign outside Kihei Marketplace advertises cool refreshment. PC: Brian Perry
  • A wave-generating structure on the backside of the Kihei Marketplace property will be demolished as part of redevelopment plans. PC: Brian Perry
  • A monkeypod tree in the middle of a parking lot at Kihei Marketplace will remain as a central feature for shade and relaxation at the redeveloped property. PC: Brian Perry
  • A wild hen and her chicks (lower right) make themselves at home at the Kihei Marketplace parking lot on Tuesday. PC: Brian Perry
  • Most of the kiosks at the Kihei Marketplace were shuttered on Tuesday afternoon. PC: Brian Perry
  • A raised triangular curb allowing traffic right turns only in and out will be removed as part of redevelopment plans for Kihei Marketplace across from Kalama Park. PC: Brian Perry

Kīhei resident Mary Trotto said: “Considering the housing crisis on Maui, short-term vacation rentals is very ill-advised. We need to build rental units for the long term. Having 13 vacation rentals and only four long term rentals is backwards. Here is South Maui we need all 17 units to be long term rentals with at least half of them affordable rentals.”

Ultimately, the project developers, represented by Raymond Cabebe of CHP Maui, agreed to withdraw their request for vacation rentals and switch to long-term residential units.

That led to an SMA condition requiring the developer to convert all units to long-term residential use, targeting moderate-income renters. However, “if the applicant requests to change the long-term use back to TVR use, the SMA amendment application must be reviewed and approved by the Maui Planning Commission as a public hearing item.”

Cabebe said the Kos have long-time ties to Maui, having moved here from Oʻahu in the late ‘80s, initially living in Lahaina. He referred to Mrs. Ko, Jae Hee Ko, as “the woman behind the man” and the “boss lady” who has taken care of business at the Kīhei Marketplace.

Yong Su Ko is the Vice President of the Federation of the Korean Associations in the USA (24 years), and he’s a six-year veteran of the US. Army. Mr. Ko chaired the committee to build the Korean Gardens at Kepaniwai Park in Iao Valley, a project completed in 2003. The Kos personally contributed $10,000 and helped raise the additional funds to construct the project at no cost to the county.


A number of testifiers shared concerns about increased traffic and a shortage of parking in the congested area.

Commissioners also heard public testimony that Lahaina businesses displaced by the Aug. 8-9 wildfires should get first dibs on newly opened commercial outlets. With the applicant’s consent, the commission drafted a condition requiring owners to reach out first to local Lahaina businesses and provide proof to the Department of Planning in a final compliance report.

Other permit conditions require upgrades to control systems for wastewater infrastructure and installation of a photovoltaic system to offset increased energy demands.

With the conditions, commissioners unanimously approved the SMA application.

Now, the developer can proceed with plans for the $8 million project to demolish an abandoned wave-generating structure and other remaining structures and redevelop the 1.6-acre property at 1975 South Kīhei Road, across from Kalama Park.


Developers also want to to maintain a 300-square-foot restaurant and renovate a 4,000-square-foot commercial structure. New construction will include two commercial buildings of 2,335 square feet each; two restaurants (3,400- and 2,365-square feet, respectively); and 76 parking stalls. Long-term rental units will be in upper floors.

One of the restaurant areas may be the new location for Cheeseburger in Paradise, which lost its prime location on Front Street during the wildfires.

Currently, the project site has a two-story, open-air warehouse structure; several take-out food service facilities; a moped rental shop; a dive training school; and a specialty wave-generating structure that has not operated for the past decade. The property is next to a Union 76 gas station and the Island Surf condominium.

Redevelopment plans call for maintaining the small restaurant and existing two-story, 6,500-square-foot warehouse structure currently used for shops and a tour kiosk. Structures on the west side of the property will be demolished.

Project developers plan to begin construction soon after they get governmental approvals. Work is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete.

Editor’s note: This story was updated from a previous version.

Brian Perry
Brian Perry worked as a staff writer and editor at The Maui News from 1990 to 2018. Before that, he was a reporter at the Pacific Daily News in Agana, Guam. From 2019 to 2022, he was director of communications in the Office of the Mayor.
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