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Foundation seeks input on future of historic Pioneer Mill Co. Office Building

By Staff | May 7, 2021

LAHAINA — Lahaina Restoration Foundation (LRF) is reaching out to the community for input during the process to create a plan for the future of the historic Pioneer Mill Company Office Building.

A virtual meeting was held April 21, and the next Zoom meeting is scheduled for Saturday, May 8, at 2 p.m.

The public can access the meeting via phone by calling 1-669-900-9128, or e-mail Kimberly@lahainarestoration.org to obtain a link to join the Zoom meeting by computer.

Founded in 1860, Pioneer Mill Co. was the first plantation to grow sugar commercially in Lahaina. The company also built one of Hawaii’s first sugar mills.

By 1935, the operation cultivated more than 10,000 acres of sugar cane on the West Side.

At its peak in the 1960s, the mill processed 60,000 tons of sugar annually.

Pioneer Mill Co. ceased operations in 1999, and the bustling mill office closed after 139 years in business.

The sugar mill was razed in 2006, but Lahaina Restoration Foundation was able to preserve and renovate its iconic smokestack.

LRF received a grant from Maui County in 2020 to conduct community planning for uses of the 380 Lahainaluna Road office building, which is listed on the Hawaii Register of Historic Places.

The foundation contracted with Planning Consultants Hawaii LLC to lead the development process.

Theo Morrison, LRF executive director, said 16 members of the public attended the April 21 meeting via Zoom.

“The meeting included a PowerPoint of the history of the area and the building, a review by an architect who said that the ‘bones of the building’ — foundation and walls — are in really good condition, and the building is definitely worth saving. There was also a discussion of issues such as current zoning and potential parking needs depending on the future use,” Morrison explained.

A key factor is the mill office building needs to be able to financially support itself after it is restored. Future occupants must cover electricity, cleaning of common areas, repairs and maintenance, as well as contribute to a fund for large capital improvement or repair projects.

“There was lots of positive community input at the meeting. Some of the uses that the public wanted to see included a health and wellness center, museum and resource center, creative or maker space, and area for performing arts,” Morrison said.

“We will continue the discussion on May 8th, and the PowerPoint will be reshown.”

Comments and ideas can e-mailed to Kimberly@lahainarestoration.org.