A road and zoning changesBy Gordon Y.K. Pang
may attract builders to the
former Navy storage site
Mention the old Navy Manana storage site and most Pearl City residents would probably picture the hulky and rusting metal warehouses that dotted Waimano Home Road for years.
City officials want to change that and bring medical facilities, dance studios, day care centers, teen night clubs, restaurants and specialty shops into the area. The leveling of the warehouses has already begun.
Now city officials are hoping a new road, sewage improvements and zoning changes will entice developers to invest in the property.
It's the second attempt by the city to find prospective tenants for the 109-acre site, purchased from the Navy in 1994 for $94 million. A search for a master developer for the site in 1996 drew three bids but all three were judged too low.
This time, the city is offering about 57 acres of the property scattered around a planned city bus depot, a park with softball fields and other recreational facilities, a youth center, and corporation yards for the transit services, parks and recreation and the Board of Water Supply.
A task force of area residents and area Councilman Mufi Hannemann came up with recommendations of what they would like to see in the area, including assisted living facilities, convenience stores, day-care facilities, offices, medical laboratories, eating establishments, batting cages, bowling alleys, golf driving ranges, interactive sports facilities, karaoke, simulation rides, restaurants and movie theaters.
The city is proposing to build a four-lane, 92-foot-wide, 3,800-foot-long road that would connect the intersection of Moanalua and Waimano Home roads with Acacia Road near the Pearl Highlands Center at a cost of $9.8 million. Another $1.5 million has been allocated for sewage and drainage improvements.
Albert Fukushima, who heads the Pearl City Neighborhood Board and was a member of the task force on Manana, said all government improvements are supposed to be finished by summer 2001.
The neighborhood board voted last week to support the zone changes for the project. But Fukushima said some residents would like to see a a 60-foot height limit for buildings in Manana lowered and would like a buffer zone between the development and neighborhood homes. They also want assurances that traffic concerns will be addressed, he said.
"It's going to be a mess once Home Depot opens across the street next year," Fukushima said.
The Home Depot store is planned for a site that the city also purchased from the Navy for $15 million as part of the Manana deal that helped fund construction of the Ford Island Bridge.
Fukashima is hopeful rezoning and improvements to the 109-acre Manana site will jump-start the area, but he questions whether the city will recoup the $94 million spent to purchase the site.
"I think it would be more palatable for someone to come in (with the zoning and improvements)," Fukushima said. Nonetheless, he said, "Right now the economy is real down. I think the city is going to take a loss."
Hannemann, who is opposing Mayor Jeremy Harris in his bid for re-election this fall, said he endorses moving the plan as quickly as possible. Still, he said, "I think it's going to be a hard sell. I haven't heard anyone really interested."
Stephanie Sofos, a real estate marketing analyst, said the city might have an easier time attracting industrial tenants rather than commercial.
Demand for industrial space in the Leeward area has been high, she said, while commercial properties appear to be more abundant. Manana's appeal as a commercial site may also be dulled by the fact that is not on Kamehameha Highway or Moanalua Road, the two major thoroughfares in the area, Sofos said.
Martin Plotnick of Creative Resources Inc., a marketing research company, said he worries that the potential for traffic tie-ups in the area might scare off potential lessors. In general, he said, the city should not be in the business of buying and selling land.