KEN ANDRADE / KANDRADE@STARBULLETIN.COM
The proposed redevelopment of 36.5 acres on the Kakaako Waterfront is on hold. Part of the property is show above.
Kakaako project in Lingle's hands
The Legislature moves to kill a proposed A&B development that would include high-rise condos
A state agency took its first tentative steps yesterday in reassessing how to redevelop 36.5 acres of waterfront property in Kakaako after the Legislature all but killed plans to turn the largely blighted area into a village of shops and public spaces anchored by two high-rise condominium towers.
The Hawaii Community Development Authority stopped short of terminating its nonbinding agreement withA&B Properties Inc.
, the project's private developer. Daniel Dinell, the authority's executive director, said the Legislature still is in session and that the authority is waiting to see all of the Legislature's recommendations.
In the meantime, the authority unveiled rough plans yesterday for establishing a committee that would recommend how best to use the state-owned waterfront land it manages in Kakaako. Opponents of A&B's plan cheered the prospect of granting a panel of citizens, including environmental and community activists, the power to help craft plans for the Kakaako waterfront.
"This is a great idea," said Nancy Hedlund, a member of the Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board who led a grassroots campaign against the A&B proposal. "It is a wonderful beginning with a lot of things to work with."
The development authority's meeting came a day after the House and Senate approved bills that prohibit residential development in Kakaako Makai and prevent the HCDA from selling public land there without legislative approval.
If Gov. Linda Lingle lets the bills become law, they would halt A&B's project as it is now envisioned. Although she has vowed to support the A&B project, Lingle has not said whether she would veto bills that would stop it. Her spokesman could not be reached for comment yesterday.
A&B's project envisions a sweeping redevelopment of Kakaako Makai. The plan includes adding park space, building a farmers market and hula amphitheater and creating more public parking stalls. It also calls for retail shopping space along the Kewalo Basin harbor and 635 condominiums to be built on land that the state would sell to A&B.
A&B has said that the condos are essential to the project, because the company would use proceeds from the sale of the units to finance the public amenities that produce no revenue.
But opponents, including surfers and community activists, objected to the proposal, arguing that it was inappropriate to sell taxpayer-owned oceanfront property to build a shopping mall and luxury condos.
Led by a handful of voices from the Friends of Kewalo Park Basin Association, the Oahu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation and the Ala Moana/Kakaako Neighborhood Board, the opposition swelled to a torrent with repeated marches and rallies at the state Capitol.
As described at yesterday's meeting, the new HCDA advisory committee would give activists a more direct voice in deciding how the land would be used.
Teney Takahashi, director of planning for the HCDA, said the agency would be composed of 10 to 15 volunteer members, including community leaders, business executives, labor leaders, landowners and environmentalists, as well as HCDA staff.
The committee would be charged with establishing goals, reviewing processes, identifying financing sources and the like, Takahashi said.
Michael Goshi, vice chairman of the HCDA board*, said it was important for the committee to devise a new philosophical vision for the HCDA, which was established in the 1970s with the overarching mission to develop Kakaako.
"Times change," Goshi said.
Several opponents of the A&B plan came forward at yesterday's meeting to offer support for the new advisory committee and suggestions on who should be appointed to it. Ron Iwami, the leader of an umbrella organization called Save Our Kakaako, said his members would be eager to participate. Michelle Matson, another vocal opponent, suggested that the panel include an "independent planning expert."
Yesterday's meeting came just two days after homeless people who had been sleeping at Ala Moana beach Park were moved into a state-owned building in the Fort Armstrong industrial area of Kakaako Makai, which is managed by the HCDA.
The authority's role in helping find shelter for more than 100 of Honolulu's least fortunate people drew praise yesterday from some of the same critics who had pointed to the Kakaako Waterfront project as evidence that the HCDA was out of touch with the needs of ordinary people.
Ted Liu, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, noted the irony of having people living in Kakaako Makai, notwithstanding the Legislature's new bills.
"This is residential - ironically in Kakaako Makai," Liu said.
Friday, May 5, 2006
» Michael Goshi is vice chairman of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, though he chaired the agency's meeting on Wednesday. A story on Page C1 yesterday incorrectly said he was chairman.