HCDA revamps Kakaako plans
Reacting to legislative and public opposition against development of state-owned waterfront lands in Kakaako, the Hawaii Community Development Authority unanimously voted yesterday to terminate all plans for the region's makai area, and set a policy to ban the sale of state lands there.
These actions by the HCDA formally end its agreement with Alexander & Baldwin Inc. to develop an urban village in Kakaako, as well as all runner-up companies who had also responded to the agency's request for waterfront development proposals, said Daniel Dinell, executive director of the HCDA.
"We are saying that regardless of what action that Gov. Linda Lingle takes on House Bill 2555, we are committed to protecting public interest by not selling state lands in the makai area," he said.
Without a partnership between A&B or other developers, the state now lacks the financial means to fix up Kakaako makai, and the HCDA is forming a community advisory committee to brainstorm what to do with the state's crucial waterfront resource, Dinell said.
"We want public input from every level," he said.
The authority, which is the state's master planner for the Kakaako waterfront district, also will ask Lingle to veto the bill, which would take away its authority to bring residential development makai of Ala Moana, Dinell said.
"We aren't saying that any future development of Kakaako should have residential development, but prohibition of any future development could adversely impact our ability to develop the makai area," Dinell said.
While A&B had not formally withdrawn from the project, the company indicated in May that if House Bill 2555 was approved, it would pull out of its agreement to transform the run-down industrial area, he said.
"Leasehold residential development is still considered by many to be a viable compromise and a crucial part of the authority's vision of the waterfront as a place to live, work and play," Dinell said.
"For instance, if HB2555 becomes law, than Kamehameha Schools will not be able to provide rental units above their planned biotech building."
Anti-development activists, however, stand by their opposition to any residential development in Kakaako Makai. They also stand by their support for HB2555.
"Their decision flies in the face of what the legislature delivered on all session, to keep residential development out of a public shoreline area," said Michelle Matson of Save Our Kakaako Makai. "With a blink of an eye, all the [HCDA board] members voted in favor of vetoing the bill we had worked so hard for all session. There's nothing to rely on if the bill is vetoed."
Wayne Takamine, a park user and concerned resident, agreed. "The residents of Hawaii have supported HB2555, which is evident in the nearly unanimous vote in the House and Senate," he said.
The activists said they are pleased with HCDA's decision to no longer sell public lands.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's the only logical thing to do," said Michael Kliks, another opponent of the waterfront development. "If this is what they would have concluded long ago, it would not have wasted A&B's money."
An A&B representative could not be reached for comment.