Lingle pushes for
progress in Kakaako
She plans to revive a call
for the merger of the two state
agencies responsible for the area
After a traditional ceremony untying a maile lei to dedicate $24 million in completed street-widening and infrastructure projects there yesterday, Gov. Linda Lingle said it's time to start "picking up the pace" in the redevelopment of Honolulu's Kakaako waterfront.
"I will tell you that 17 years is a little bit too much continuity for me," Lingle said, referring to a succession of officials overseeing the project that began in 1987 to transform an unattractive light industrial tract on state lands into more suitable urban uses.
"I'd like to see a picking up of the pace right now," she said.
Lingle participated in the ceremonies sponsored by the Hawaii Community Development Authority, the state agency created in 1976 to supersede city zoning and development authority over the 670-acre Kakaako area adjacent to downtown Honolulu.
Most noticeable in the project is the transforming of Ilalo Street into a wide, landscaped boulevard extending from Ala Moana at Ward Avenue and back to Ala Moana at South Street on a realigned and widened Forrest Avenue.
Much of the cost, however, went into the installation of upgraded underground sewage, drainage, water service and other infrastructure to handle major public and private developments expected for the area.
The anchors for a beautified high-tech campus setting are the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine, now under construction, and related cancer research center. State officials hope these will attract private medical research and development companies as tenants.
The state has three five-acre lots that are expected to be leased out to commercial developers, earning the state revenues to help cover development costs.
HCDA officials, meanwhile, are continuing discussions with Kajima Urban Development, a subsidiary of Kajima USA, about building an aquarium and marine research complex in Kakaako.
Lingle said after 17 years of preparation, the public will now be able to start seeing the results of the improvements.
"Certainly the medical school is going to provide a real good example of what can come about when these kind of investments are made here in Kakaako," Lingle said.
The governor said another key element in making the development successful will be creating private residential property in Kakaako and surrounding areas.
"For this part of Honolulu to be vibrant, in my opinion, there has to be a strong residential component tied with it. There has to be people here. It has to be alive. It has to have energy beyond when stores close at five or six o'clock," Lingle said. "To really have the vibrancy of an active city bustling waterfront, you have to have people."
The governor also said she'll renew an effort to get the Legislature to approve consolidating the Hawaii Community Development Authority with the state's Aloha Tower Development Corp., which oversees the adjacent Honolulu Harbor property.
The Senate passed the bill earlier this year, but it stalled in the House where it remains for consideration when the 2004 session begins Jan. 21.
"It just seems to make common sense to me that you wouldn't have two separate organizations operating side-by-side when there's so much synergy to be gained from working in a collaborative fashion," Lingle said.
Despite her home-rule views as a former Maui County mayor, Lingle said she believes the Kakaako development should remain under state jurisdiction because the state has had success and has a greater ability to borrow money.
Asked why a $2.4 billion rail transit project being proposed for Oahu, because of its magnitude, shouldn't also be under the state's instead of city's jurisdiction, Lingle replied: "Because this is a revenue generator and rapid transit, of course, is a revenue eater."