A state agency yesterday chose the $138 million proposal
from developer D.G. "Andy" Anderson's group for the
Kewalo Basin waterfront area. The plan's prominent
features include a Ferris wheel and a laser-light tower.
gets nod for
A state board selects the projectBy Heather Tang
despite objections from its staff
A big wheel may be rolling into Kakaako come 2003. Over reservations expressed by its staff, the Hawaii Community Development Association board of directors yesterday unanimously voted to approve a $138 million proposal submitted by D.G. "Andy" Anderson to create a retail and entertainment complex.
Pending final negotiations and approvals, Kewalo Project Development Ltd., headed by Anderson, will redevelop Kewalo Basin on portions of 18-acres of state-owned land.
Anderson's 10-acre project, called Kewalo Pointe, will use three of five state-owned parcels to develop a harbor-front retail, restaurant and entertainment area that would include a 132-feet-high Ferris wheel. Inspired in part by Disneyland, the "family friendly," maritime-themed project is designed to draw local residents with emphasis on the environment and scenery of the Kewalo waterfront.
The 650,000-square-foot development is expected to cost $138 million over the next five to six years, said Anderson who has already spent about $250,000 on proposal developments.
"This is gonna be a win-win project. We've designed it to fit and abide by the state's requests. It's family recreation, something different for them to do," said Anderson, owner of the nearby John Dominis restaurant on Ahui Street. Anderson contends that his proposed mid-size boutiques and specialty restaurants will help him compete with Kakaako neighbors, Aloha Tower Marketplace, Ward Centers and Ala Moana Center.
At yesterday's meeting of the state agency in charge of Kakaako redevelopment, HCDA staff initially expressed doubts about Anderson's proposal and the competing bid -- Imperial Associates' "Kewalo Waterfront Village" -- because of three major concerns: a lack of market feasibility, questionable financial viability and risk, and weak economic benefit to the state.
Authority staff recommended that the board reject both plans and instead initiate a comprehensive study of the Kakaako waterfront to decrease financial risk while increasing economic benefits to the state.
But HCDA board member and Hawaii Carpenters Union leader Walter Kupau asked the board to reconsider, saying that the Anderson project was financially viable for the state.
In a written statement addressed to the HCDA, he argued that Anderson's Kewalo Pointe will create 2,230 new jobs at an annual payroll of more than $60 million. "If they meet all legal requirements and satisfy the financial lease obligations, why shouldn't they be allowed to take the business risks?" asked Kupau.
Anderson's final approval will be subject to conditions developed by an HCDA subcommittee. Pending approvals and building permits, construction could begin as early as 2001 with completion in 2003, the HCDA said.
Members of the community who attended yesterday's meeting expressed concern over a lack of community involvement in the development process. Beverly Harbin, president of the Kakaako Improvement Association, told the Star-Bulletin earlier that her group objected to the HCDA's handling of the development project on a number of levels. She criticized the HCDA for keeping the selection process secret, for not getting enough input from the community, and for choosing a project that will compete with nearby retail attractions.
Before the HCDA decision, Gov. Ben Cayetano said he had told the board to seek global competition for the Kakaako waterfront development. The governor said he wants HCDA to exhaust every effort to get people around the world to develop the area.
"I'm not sure that they have done that because we've ended up with two local developers," he said yesterday morning.
The board decided against the Kewalo Waterfront Village, proposed by James W.Y. Wong's Imperial Associates Ltd., which was to be modeled after successful mainland public markets such as Pike Place Market in Seattle.
The winning Kewalo Pointe plan includes a roughly 130-foot-high Ferris Wheel, a 60-foot "Diamond Grand" carousel and a championship miniature golf course as some of its major proposed recreational elements. It will also include a waterfront strolling promenade, a concert shell featuring music and entertainment, art galleries, and a cruise boat terminal for public water transportation and dining and ocean cruises. Art galleries, arts and craft, markets, laser light displays are also planned.
Variances from the authority will be needed to construct the Ferris Wheel and a 42-foot-high tower for a laser light show.
Anderson's carnival-like theme grabbed the attention of Cayetano.
"I don't want to see Kakaako turned into a Coney Island," the governor said.
The Kewalo Pointe project includes 150,000 square feet of recreation and activity space, 400,000 square feet of building area and 1,170 partially underground parking stalls.