City measures seek to reopen raceway
Councilman Apo proposes a possible land swap for the city to obtain the site
The site of the former Hawaii Raceway Park would be condemned by the city and turned back into a racetrack under measures introduced this week at the City Council.
Councilman Todd Apo, who introduced Resolutions 07-162 and 07-163, said the time is right to discuss reopening the racetrack on a 65.8-acre parcel just outside Campbell Industrial Park that was closed last year.
"Beyond the recreation, I think there's a significant public safety issue that's worth us keeping it alive and having a discussion to see what kind of solutions we can provide," Apo said, referring to increasing concerns over street racing.
After the track was closed, Los Angeles-based developer Irongate bought the parcel from the then-landowner, the Estate of James Campbell, for a reported $13.2 million.
Irongate, which is also developing Trump International Hotel and Tower Waikiki Beach Walk, plans to redevelop the former raceway site into an industrial park with 90 lots for sale and is applying to the city for a change in the current agricultural zoning to accommodate future industrial and business uses.
Apo said he has been in discussions with the new owner for about a year.
"They're open to being part of the solution if we can find a solution that's acceptable," Apo said.
An attempt to reach a representative of the developer was unsuccessful.
"It probably wouldn't be a straight cash buyout type of condemnation," said Apo, who represents the region. "It's probably more finding replacement property. They're interested in providing an industrial park -- which we need that kind of space on this island -- and so it's probably going to be a situation where we try to find them some replacement lands where we can provide that kind of space while preserving the raceway park."
Apo said there are several areas in West Oahu that could accommodate such a land swap.
"Perhaps there are lands within Kalaeloa where it makes sense to put some type of industrial or business park. And the city is supposed to get some of the land within Kalaeloa. So that may be a location," he said. "There may be some possibilities within the existing Campbell Industrial Park area."
Apo introduced a similar measure last year that died in committee, but he and others believe the circumstances have changed since then.
"I think it's wonderful," said Evelyn Souza, spokeswoman for Save Oahu's Race Track. "This is something that we've wanted from day one."
Souza said that while her organization is working with the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to set up a temporary racetrack site and has worked with other groups to organize events at the Aloha Stadium parking lot to keep racers off streets, the best solution is using the old raceway site because the infrastructure is already in place.
Souza said what is different this time is that there is $1 million of state funding available for acquisition, and the players are different. A land swap "is not so far-fetched," she said. "In fact, it's an excellent idea -- that way, everyone goes away from the table not spending a whole bunch of money, and they leave happy with the trade."