The Ige administration said Thursday that the state of Hawaii has completed a $15 million transaction to acquire the land under Front Street Apartments on Maui.

“The move brings the state a step closer to keeping the Front Street Apartments affordable for some 250 tenants,” a press release states.

The Front Street Apartments in Lahaina have been the subject of a debate over more affordable housing in the picturesque community for years.

The state said it bought the land from 3900 LLC. to help preserve the rents at the 142-unit apartment building and to prevent them from surging to market prices.

The press release pointed to a new law this year authorizing the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation to acquire the land and initiate negotiations with the owners of Front Street Apartments.

“This acquisition brings us closer to protecting tenants from significant rent increases that could displace them. We are working toward more affordable housing for not only Maui residents, but for our families across the state,” said Gov. David Ige.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorinox expressed gratitude for the development, as did Gary Kubota, a volunteer liaison for the Front Street Apartment Tenants Group

“Many thanks to Gov. Ige and a broad coalition of supporters who helped to prevent the mass eviction of Front Street Apartment tenants,” Kubota said via email. “They included business associations on Maui and labor unions like ILWU and AFL-CIO Unite Here! This represents a victory for poor working people seeking housing. It tells them you’re not alone and we value their work in the community.”

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