Gov gets bankersGov. Ben Cayetano is moving ahead on an idea he's had for years to develop a world-class aquarium as an anchor in the Kakaako Makai Gateway Park.
help in bid for
a great aquarium
Walter Dods is enlisted
to help Hawaii develop
a facility at Kakaako park
By Helen Altonn
He has asked Walter Dods, chief executive of BancWestCorp., First Hawaiian Bank's parent company, to put a plan involving private and government funding into action.
"My idea is that Kakaako ought to belong to the people," Dods said today. He'd like to see an aquarium and other nonprofit public facilities join the Children's Museum at the waterfront park.
"It's a beautiful park," he said. "It needs more critical mass.... This is the last real site in urban Honolulu, I think, to do something right for the community."
$100 million projectDods is forming a 12- to 15-member committee to try to raise money, design and build an aquarium in three to five years on the point just past John Dominis Restaurant.
The estimated $100 million project would include about $25 million to lease state lands at $1 a year and about $10 million to $15 million for parking, he said.
About $60 million to $65 million must be raised, Dods said. "We're trying to do $15 million to $20 million in private fund-raising, and some $30 million to $40 million would be in some forms of government financing yet to be determined."
He stressed that the project still is very preliminary. "We're laying it all out, talking to all parties."
Current facility has a roleHe is working closely with Bruce Carlson, director of the Waikiki Aquarium, which would be incorporated in the new facility and manage it.
"Bruce is constricted by space, but his ideas are not constricted at all," Dods said. "He would do a wonderful job. My committee would try to make it all possible."
Sen. Daniel Inouye also has expressed interest in supporting the project, Dods said.
A feasibility study two years ago looked at construction of an aquarium that could attract 750,000 visitors annually and support a $34 million debt.
Carlson said then that Kakaako offered the best opportunity for an interpretive and interactive center for Hawaii's ocean environment.
Jan Yokota, Hawaii Community Development Authority executive director, said several central parking structures are in the concept stage that could provide a couple thousand parking stalls.