The Maui News - Plans for the Maui Medical Plaza hatched nearly eight years ago when doctors sought help from Montana multimillionaire and part-time Wailea resident Ben Brown Sr.
They complained their offices were cramped and old, and, at the Maui Clinic on Pu'unene Avenue in Kahului, Alexander & Baldwin did not intend to renew its tenants' leases beyond November 2008.
Now, with the $45 million project ready to break ground and in desperate need of financing, the doctors are getting cold feet. The medical plaza's fate hinges on whether island doctors will embrace a project that drew fire from Maui planners for its six-story height and its location across Hana Highway from 24-Hour Fitness and next to the wildlife sanctuary at Kanaha Pond.
Brown has sunk $7.5 million of his own money into buying the project's 2.5-acre property, developing plans and gaining approval in 2011 from the Maui Planning Commission, a commitment that has helped drive him into bankruptcy.
"I need a venture partner," he said last week in a phone interview from his ranch near Billings, Mont. "I've carried it as far as I can go. I'm at the end of what I'm able to do as far as money."