Monday, March 14, 2005

The Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon and planned boardwalk will remain open to the public.

Hilton Hawaiian Village
ready for lagoon area

The four-year project includes
a boardwalk and time-share
tower at the Waikikian site

A long-awaited upgrade of the Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon begins this week, to be followed by construction of a 39-story time-share tower, retail shops and a restaurant.

During the next year and a half, the Hilton plans to make the lagoon shallower, smaller and cleaner and to install a public boardwalk around it at a cost of $5 million, Hilton Senior Vice President Peter Schall said.

"It's our desire to restore the lagoon so that people can enjoy it and swim in there," Schall said.

Saltwater wells will help keep the new lagoon fresh

Here is a tentative time line of the Hilton Hawaiian Village's development plans:

March-November: Saltwater well construction to supply lagoon; environmental assessment report

April-June: Demolition of the old Waikikian building

Fall-summer 2006: Widening of Dewey Lane, with sidewalk, waterline and landscaping

Fall-end of 2006: Rejuvenation of the lagoon to 5 feet 6 inches deep by installing a plastic liner and clean sand over the silty bottom; adding landscaping and boardwalk

June 2006-2009: Construction of the new Waikikian Tower, retail shops, restaurant and hotel swimming pools

The hotel also plans to widen the alley between its property and the adjacent Renaissance Ilikai Waikiki Hotel into a two-lane road, with a stoplight on Ala Moana Boulevard, Schall said. Per an agreement with the city, the Hilton also will construct a public restroom facing Dewey Lane.

The proposed Waikikian Tower would be the seventh tower in the Hilton Hawaiian Village and its second time-share rental when completed in 2009.

The 350-foot-tall tower will be built on a 1.9-acre strip of land formerly occupied by the Waikikian Hotel and Tahitian Lanai Restaurant.

The first steps in the improvements will be the lagoon and road projects, both of which the Hilton promised to do when the Honolulu City Council approved its overall development plans in 2002.

Hilton is not making public the cost estimates for the roadway, shopping, restaurant and tower construction. By comparison, the hotel's Kalia Tower was built at a cost of $95 million.

Drilling up to seven saltwater wells to supply better water for the lagoon could begin this week, Schall said. The drilling will take five to six months, followed by about a year of restoration work on the lagoon that Schall hopes will be completed by the end of 2006.

Water quality in the lagoon also will be improved by rerouting rainwater runoff directly to the Ala Wai Harbor.

Plans call for a plastic-wood boardwalk, with "nautical themed" lighting, palm trees and other landscaping, to circle the entire lagoon, Schall told residents of the Ala Wai Boat Harbor Wednesday. He also presented the hotel's plans to the Waikiki Neighborhood Board on Tuesday.

The lagoon and boardwalk will remain public. A new series of swimming pools mauka of the lagoon, with a "lazy river" theme, will be for the use of hotel guests, Schall said.

At the intersection of Dewey Lane and Ala Moana, the hotel plans 10,000 square feet of shops, attached to the base of the new Waikikian Tower.

It will house 350 time-share units with one, two and three bedrooms and be the same height as the hotel's Tapa Tower.

Ala Wai Harbor resident Janet Mandrell said she believes the hotel should have improved water quality in the lagoon sooner. "They're trying to overlook the fact that they didn't do their job" in the past, she said.

Improving the lagoon "is really needed to beautify the lagoon and enhance the Waikiki experience for the tourist," agreed Waikiki Neighborhood Board member Les Among.

"We'd welcome any changes to clean it up and increase water circulation," said Sierra Club Director Jeff Mikulina. "Long term, it will hopefully result in a cleaner lagoon."

Surfer Tony Agao said he was relieved to learn last week that none of the free parking at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor will be affected by the lagoon work.

Mandrell questioned whether widening Dewey Lane will increase traffic problems rather than decrease them.

Ilikai officials did not respond to requests last week for comment on the roadway proposal. In 2002 an Ilikai spokesman said the Hilton plans would be an asset for the area.

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