Kapolei mall budget hotel would be area’s first
DeBartolo Development LLC, the Tampa, Fla.-based developer selected by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to build a mall on a 67-acre tract in East Kapolei, has talked with local residents about adding a hotel and tourism training center to the mix.
The response so far has been favorable, said Maeda C. Timson, chairwoman of the Makakilo, Kapolei, Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board.
"Folks were impressed that they came to the community first and weren't just dropping this plan on our laps," Timson said. "The company has asked for community input about Hawaii and what we'd like to see at the center. They even discussed building an affordable hotel that could provide hospitality training."
If the plan goes through, the hotel would be the first budget hotel developed in West Oahu. While the J.W. Ihilani Marriott is a good employer and a beautiful hotel, Timson said, room rates there are beyond the budgets of many local residents.
"We're all very excited," she said. "It would be nice to have an affordable hotel for our friends and family to stay in when they come to visit. Right now, many people have to drive back and forth from Waikiki."
The project, which is still at least three years out, is part of DHHL's efforts to be self-sufficient while providing job and business opportunities for the Leeward Coast, said Micah Kane, chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission. The property site, which is located between the Ewa and Kapolei communities, sits at the intersection of the Kapolei Parkway extension and the proposed North/South Road. DHHL's new offices and 350 residential homes will be built across the street from the mall and possible hotel complex.
Lloyd Yonenaka, spokesman for DHHL, said yesterday that the hotel concept is just one of many options being discussed by the developers and that it's too soon to release firm details. If the developers elect to develop a hotel, Yonenaka said that it would cater to business travelers and kamaaina.
"There's some market for a local-type hotel (for) when business travelers and friends and family come to visit," Yonenaka said. "Obviously they'll consider that when they are deciding what the best mix is for Kapolei."
DHHL will be the first state department to move its entire Oahu operations to the Kapolei. Kane said the mall project will provide revenue to DHHL that will be used to pay for more infrastructure, but it has an impact greater than just revenue generation.
"We see ourselves as working to benefit the entire region, and we want to be successful in improving economic opportunities for the entire Leeward Coast. Construction jobs and permanent employment from this project is an important part of making life better for everybody," Kane said.
While DHHL has not talked with University of Hawaii's School of Travel Industry Management about the project, more hospitality training needs to be provided for Hawaii residents, said Frank Haas, who is working on development projects at the UH TIM School.
"We are working on several training programs," Haas said.