Reduced Kakaako plan deserves consensus
Alexander & Baldwin has altered its plans for the Kakaako coastline.
DEVELOPERS of a state-sponsored Kakaako waterfront project have scaled it back
in response to public objections. The reduced plan still will face some opposition but the remaining ingredients are needed to revitalize the coastline.
Alexander & Baldwin eliminated a pedestrian bridge across Kewalo Basin due to complaints that it would have blocked sailboats because of the height of their masts. The company also chose to erase plans for restaurants at Point Panic and Kewalo Basin Park, creating 230 more parking spaces at Point Panic, a popular area for surfers.
The most controversial part of the plan is the inclusion of condominiums. The company has tried to lower the heat by eliminating one of the three buildings planned, reducing the number of units from 950 to 635.
Surrendering to opponents who want no residential units on the land would change the nature of the development and make it unworkable. The Hawaii Community Development Authority, which initiated the project, envisioned a "live, work, learn and play" area that would not shut down at night.
The state learned from difficulties at Aloha Tower Marketplace about the importance of onsite residents to ensure a vibrant area. That element was absent from the initial development because of the 1990s economic slump. The state's economic recovery is allowing the plan for 375 condo units near Aloha Tower to go forward.
Critics predict that rich out-of-state residents will buy most of the condos, but A&B wants to offer the units first to owner-occupants and then to other Hawaii residents before mainland or foreign residents are given the opportunity. One-fifth of the units will be sold at prices affordable to middle-income families, according to state guidelines.
Alexander & Baldwin has shown its sensitivity to local concerns in adopting the changes. The revised plan should be acceptable to the state agency and to the community.
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