Mega church taking over businesses, agricultural land in West Oahu

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A mega church is changing the landscape of West Oahu.

They are moving forward with purchasing more than 200 acres of Kunia farmland and building an entire church community.

KHON2 sat down with the pastor of New Hope Leeward in an exclusive interview to find out what this $30 million expansion plan entails.

It is still in the planning stages, but the church expects the sale of the Kunia agricultural lands to close in the next year or so.

They signed the purchase and sale agreement in May 2012 and are now working with the city to get some zoning changes.

It’s a plan that even the pastor says may seem ambitious or crazy.

On Sunday, he unveiled the church’s vision of the “Promise Land” to the congregation.

“There’s going to be a church sanctuary with many seats, a christian school across the plaza, behind the sanctuary will be a large outdoor amphitheater,” New Hope Leeward Senior Pastor Michael Lwin said.

Lwin says the amphitheater will be equivalent to the Waikiki Shell.

They also have a college campus in the works.

“We’re going to have a bible college there as well, so basically your kids can go here from age zero all the way to their doctor’s degree,” said Lwin.

Currently, the land located along Kunia Road, just north of Wal-Mart, is zoned as agricultural land and sits fallow.

The church says it plans to keep the majority of the 203 acres agricultural by making a farming co-op and even creating a farmers market.

When the church first presented this massive plan to the Department of Planning and Permitting in 2012 it was denied, but with the change of DPP leadership, it’s being revisited.

“Four weeks after we got the letter of rejection, we got notification that they appointed a new director at the Department of Planning and Permitting, George Atta. He’s the senior architect that envisioned our entire plan,” Lwin said to the congregation.

The church says it has already done many environmental studies, and even traffic studies. They are just waiting on the DPP for their zoning change request.

KHON2 asked how the church will pay for the $10 million of land and then the $20 million in development.

“We’re fundraising for the $10 million, our church has pledged given $3.5 million so far which is super generous for a Waipahu church, especially in this economy,” Lwin said during his interview with KHON2.

They are also in the process of a rapid expansion plan. They are opening three new church locations on the Leeward side, one at Pearlridge theaters and two more retail spaces at the Waipahu Office Depot and Kapolei Ace Hardware. Those two businesses are beginning their liquidation sales this week .

A move the church says was a difficult one.

“The good news is that those employees will be transferred to their other locations, which should be a good thing, so we will be doing everything we can to support that,” Lwin said.

Through all of these expansion plans and changes, they said they are hoping it will only continue to help the community, shining a brighter light to all.

“That’s the stuff we want to do more of and bigger campus allows us to have greater impact,” Lwin said.

The current New Hope Leeward’s lease at the Waipahu Town Center is set to expire in February, so they are racing the clock to get things going.

A new Filipino grocery store will be opening up in their current location.

Renderings courtesy: New Hope

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