August 7, 2002
HCDA subcommittee recommends OK to waterfront plans
A retail, commercial and residential mix along
the Honolulu waterfront is envisioned in preliminary
development plans for
Kakaako presented Wednesday to the Hawaii Community Development
An HCDA subcommittee recommended to the HCDA
board approval of the estimated $130 million development
project on 180 acres of land makai of Ala Moana Boulevard.
final draft of the plan is expected in September and
the board should be prepared to vote on the project in
October, said Jan
Yokota, executive director of HCDA, which owns more than
160 acres of the land being developed.
Plans center around
an architectural "signature icon" along
the lines of the Opera House in Sydney, Australia, with
center or technology museum suggested as possible ideas.
"We want to create a sense of place, a place of employment
and a key to our success is having architectural components," said
Camp of Avalon Development and a member of the HCDA board
and subcommittee that devised the plan. "We
creating another reason for people to visit Hawaii."
Other components include a pedestrian mall for the Fisherman's
Wharf area similar to River Walk in San Antonio, Texas
Seattle's Pike Street Market, said Teney Takahashi, HCDA
director of planning and development.
There's also park
space, 300 to 400 residential units, commercial and retail
space and parking for between 2,000 and 2,500
vehicles that would be hidden behind residential and
"Any plan without residential doesn't have a soul," said
Takahashi, who said development rules must be changed
to allow for
A retail-residential mix by itself would
not be enough to make the project financially viable,
but the construction of a new
University of Hawaii medical school serves as the catalyst
not just for the waterfront project, but for development
Kakaako, Takahashi said.
"If [the medical school] were not here, this plan
would be worthless and there would be no impetus to move
said. "Retail on its own is not enough to do it."
obstacles need to be overcome, including changing zoning
rules, making it easier to cross Ala Moana Boulevard,
whether to use tax-increment financing and completing
environmental cleanup of sites, including three former
Cleanup costs are included in the overall
cost, and Takahashi said there shouldn't be any surprises
since extensive environmental surveys of the area were
made and officials have a good idea of what work is needed.
Still there's concern
because, as Takahashi put it: "Every time we poke
a hole we have to deal with an environmental issue."
state Legislature already has provided about $30 million
in funding, but a battle could be brewing between the
city and the state over tax-increment financing, which
would allow HCDA to keep any tax revenues above an established
Most every other development agency uses
this type of financing, Takahashi said, with the most
successful example in San
Jose, Calif., which brings in as much as $1 billion a
The problem, Takahashi said, is HCDA is a state
agency and the city likely will be reluctant to give
up any of its tax revenue.
"The city's ox gets gored in this case," he
going to be an uphill issue ... but we should throw it
on the table."
The plan is similar to ones prepared
by Kamehameha Schools and Victoria Ward Centers for development
of their areas of
Kakaako. Kamehameha Schools wants to create an "urban
neighborhood" in the area, one that provides jobs,
places to live and
play, is walkable and easy to navigate.
How to get across
Ala Moana Boulevard remains an unsolved obstacle, and
Takahashi said a solution must be found to prevent
the problems that occur at Aloha Tower, where people
have to race across Nimitz Highway to get from mauka
Brian Minaai, state transportation director,
suggested his department would consider overpasses, which
directors refused to look at. Others said such an idea
could work if the walkway contains retail stores so people
they were crossing on a bridge. Another alternative is
shuttle buses, but that can be very expensive, said Takahashi,
out it costs Kaanapali, Maui, about $1 million a year
to operate shuttles between area hotels and Lahaina.
plan prepared for Kamehameha Schools suggests traffic-calming
measures for Ala Moana Boulevard, similar to ones
enacted in Kaimuki.
The board also must decide whether
to name a single developer for the waterfront project
or multiple developers. Takahashi recommended a single
"This project requires a lot of coordination and it
would be easier to work with one developer," he said. "It
also would be more
comfortable for the developer."
Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - August 7, 2002
© 2002 American City Business Journals Inc.