Bill would overly restrict Kakaako waterfront options
The HCDA has adopted a policy of not selling state lands along the Kakaako waterfront but wants the option of using some of it for housing.
PLANS for redevelopment of the Kakaako waterfront have been scrapped because of public opposition
, but legislation to block the development could cramp further plans to revitalize the area. The legislative action succeeded in reining in the state agency that proposed the development but is no longer needed.
The Hawaii Community Development Authority began developing plans several years ago to turn the blighted area into a sparkling venue of restaurants, businesses and residential units. Opposition to the plans to build three buildings of condominiums to be sold as residential units resulted in deletion of one of the buildings and prompted legislation to ban sale of any state land along the Kakaako waterfront or for it to be used as housing.
Alexander & Baldwin, the chosen developer, responded by withdrawing its plans. HCDA last week terminated all plans for the area and adopted a policy of not selling any of its Kakaako waterfront land. However, the prohibition against the land's residential use would ban workforce housing, including Kamehameha Schools' plans to include up to 200 residential lofts to house scientists in a Life Sciences Research Complex proposed on land it owns.
Governor Lingle supported the initial plans but favored a requirement that all the units be occupied by owners who are Hawaii residents. Opponents of the project complained that the condos were likely to have been wealthy nonresidents.
HCDA's board is asking Lingle to veto the legislation because of the prohibition of residential housing. Daniel Dinell, the authority's executive director, said the ban would limit its ability to "comprehensively plan for the mixture of uses that is clearly espoused" in the law creating the authority.
The authority agreed last month to create a citizens committee to recommend how to use the state-owned waterfront land in Kakaako. The panel would consist of 10 to 15 volunteers, including community leaders, business executives, labor leaders, landowners and environmental activists.
Dinell said Lingle should veto the bill "because all possibilities should be on the table -- imagine workforce housing above life sciences facilities or above shops, restaurants and other people-oriented facilities. If the advisory committee is to be effective, they should explore all the possibilities."
HCDA has learned from the controversy surrounding its proposal for the Kakaako waterfront that public support is needed for its plans. While the sale of state land for private condos was critical in financing the Alexander & Baldwin project, other options will be necessary to make the project lucrative for other developers. The bill, if signed into law, would make those options impossible.
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