Project will greatly improve waterfront area
A $300 million condo-retail complex at Aloha Tower has won approval.
THE state's long-desired development of land at Honolulu Harbor might soon become a reality with approval of a condo-retail proposal.
Though a few hurdles remain, the project will enrich the downtown district and finally move ahead improvement of the Aloha Tower area that has been stalled for more than a decade.
The Texas-based developer Hughes Development LP will build a 130-foot-high complex on the waterfront at Piers 5 and 6. The $300 million project will house more than 250 condos, long-term time-share units, retail stores, restaurants and possibly hotel rooms.
A key part of the complex will be parking to relieve a problem that has been said to be the primary reason for lethargic economic activity at the Aloha Tower Marketplace. The condos and time-sharing units will bring a needed residential component to the area, and harborside walkways will be inviting to nonresidents as well.
The project will have to reconcile several issues, including the ever-present concern about increased vehicle traffic. In addition, the busy, multilane Nimitz Highway, which fronts the site, is a barrier for pedestrians. There are plans for an underground tunnel, but that is still on the drawing board.
Another hurdle might be the city's rail transit project since one of the proposed routes skirts the harbor near Aloha Tower. However, these problems are not insurmountable.
The Aloha Tower Development Corp., the agency that oversees the district, has yet to work out details, such as the terms of leasing state land for the project. Officials should negotiate the best deal they can to get a good return for taxpayers, and while the developer does not appear to be overly concerned about selling leasehold units, that could limit prices on the residential properties.
Unlike the Kakaako waterfront project, the harbor proposal has not seen much opposition. Even so, forming a public advisory committee is a smart move by the agency. At this stage, another delay to sprucing up the harbor would be a shame.
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