Sunday, August 14, 2005

UH hopes for partner
in building new sites

The development of two campuses on
the Big Isle may be tied to other projects

Hawaii Community College is hoping two new campuses on both sides of the Big Island can be built and financed through the development of up to 500 acres of state land in Kona and a 267-acre state parcel in Hilo.

If the deal can be worked out, it will be the fourth public/private partnership on a major construction project being pursued by the University of Hawaii system.

The project took a step forward last week with the selection of three finalists to develop both campuses.

Rockne Freitas, the chancellor at Hawaii Community College, said he hopes a development team will be selected for approval by the Board of Regents at its October meeting in Hilo. Plans call for construction to start next year and for classes to be held in both new campuses in three years.

The Legislature appropriated $18.2 million for the planning, design and infrastructure development for what was projected to be a $200 million campus at Komohana and Puainako streets in Hilo.


Freitas said the developer selected will be able to use the state money to start planning and designing the Komohana campus and for water, sewage and other infrastructure improvements.

But most of the cost of both projects is expected to come from the development and management of the land surrounding the campuses and tax credits instead of state tax money.

The Kona campus site is on 500 acres mauka of the Keahole Airport next to the recently approved $305 million Hiluhilu project. That plan calls for homes, a golf course, a 120-room hotel, commercial space and a "University Village Center" on 725 acres of land, a project being developed by stock brokerage owner Charles Schwab and local builder Guy Lam.

The University Village Center plan also includes about six acres that Hawaii Community College can lease for class and office space.

The Hilo site is expected to serve the equivalent of 3,000 full-time students and the West Hawaii site will be built to serve 1,000 full-time students.

Freitas said the developers will have wide leeway to determine the size of the campus and how much of the state property needs to be developed to pay for the new facilities. The project could also include housing and child care facilities for students and faculty.

The developers will also have to show how they would preserve archaeological sites on the properties.

The proposal is basically, "here's these two plots of land. Tell us what you can do," Freitas said.

Five developers submitted their qualifications to the university last month. The three finalists who will put together a preliminary proposal are Big Island Campus Development Group, headquartered in Honolulu and El Paso; Hawai'i Campus Developers, headquartered in Honolulu and Atlanta; and Place Properties, headquartered in Honolulu and Atlanta.

Even after a developer is selected, there is still a long process before construction can begin. First a contract has to be worked out and the developer will undertake a feasibility study to see how practical the plan is. This will include determination of how to handle ceded land revenues. A more detailed management plan for the long-term development of the areas must then be put together and approved by the regents.

Revenue generated from ceded lands, or former Hawaiian crown lands, goes to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Besides Hawaii Community College projects, UH is also negotiating development agreements with private companies to build new dorms at UH-Manoa, a new Cancer Research Center in Kakaako and to build a new UH-West Oahu Campus in exchange for development rights on 500 acres in Kapolei.

University of Hawaii

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