KakaakoKakaako has emerged as a possible location for a new University of Hawaii medical school and biomedical center.
examined for medical
Three other areas are also
candidates for the new UH
By Helen Altonn
Gov. Ben Cayetano had suggested developing a new school at the state Department of Health site at 1250 Punchbowl St., although space may be a problem there.
The Punchbowl site, as well as Leahi Hospital property near Diamond Head, Kapolei and Kakaako are being studied as possible locations for a medical school development under an $875,000 legislative appropriation.
Cayetano has been striving to make Hawaii the health care center of the Pacific -- a goal that would be enhanced by a medical bioscience research center.
"Kakaako is one of the few places left in urban Honolulu with available land," he said, confirming that the area is being looked at for a medical center.
In its favor, Kakaako is centrally located, close to major medical centers and already has improvements.
"There is a lot of interest in the area because of some of the infrastructure improvements going on," said Jan Yokota, Hawaii Community Development Authority executive director. "People are looking at it as a much more viable area."
Those involved with the medical school development "are looking at several sites," but there are some long-term leases in the area, she said.
UH sources have also mentioned a potential 10.5-acre site across from the Gold Bond Building and in front of Kakaako Waterfront Park. A food distribution facility occupies about nine acres there on a long-term lease.
Cayetano already has proposed putting a world-class aquarium and other recreational activities along the waterfront for residents.
"There is more than enough room for Kakaako also to be a place of learning, and a biotech center is one possibility for later expansion," he said.
UH President Kenneth Mortimer said studies have shown that even with renovations, the biomedical sciences building, built in 1971 on the Manoa campus, would still be inadequate for the medical school's growth.
"For the long-range future, not in that building, we're looking at a whole series of options."
He said the Kakaako site is "a great idea." The Department of Health site also "was a great idea, but it doesn't fit," he said. "The potential in Kakaako is substantially greater."
Relationships with Tripler Army Medical Center and the Department of Veterans Affairs have been discussed as part of the new medical school.
"No decisions have been made, but a lot of analysis is going on," Mortimer said.
Options are expected to be presented to the UH Board of Regents at meetings Thursday and Friday in the Hawaii Community College cafeteria on the Big Island.
They will also be discussed in legislative hearings during the next session, Mortimer said.
"We would expect we'd go beyond the planning stage, which is what we're in now.
"We intend to have a research-focused medical school within five years. This is the reason we brought Edwin Cadman here." Cadman became dean of the medical school last year.
Cayetano and UH officials are looking to the medical school to bolster the economy with new revenues from biomedical sciences and potential private partnerships.
Cadman envisions a biomedical research education campus including a medical school, the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, Biomedical Research Center and some parts of the Department of Health.
Small academic programs in engineering and computer sciences related to biomedical health could be included, he said. "Also, we would include, to some extent, research opportunities for the graduate school of nursing."
Cadman said he would try to raise money to support the medical development from pharmaceutical companies and other biomedical entrepreneurs.
"We want the state to feel like partners, not the sole bank that's going to pay for this thing."
Ka Leo O Hawaii
University of Hawaii