UH-Hilo awaits China-U.S. Center
Construction could begin this summer, the developer says
HILO » Construction of the long-anticipated Chinese-style complex at the University of Hawaii-Hilo could begin this summer at a cost of $200 million to $300 million, according to the developer.
The privately financed China-U.S. Center has grown from a much smaller project proposed in the late 1990s.
Bridgecreek International, based in Huntington Beach, Calif., assumed management and operational control of the mixed-use center last year in a development agreement with the Taiwanese investment group GEO International Explorer.
As now envisioned, the complex, based on Han Dynasty architecture, would be built in four phases: dorm housing for 1,200 students, a commercial center, a hotel and a cultural center.
GEO was granted a 65-year lease in 2003 for 36 acres of land south of the campus on the condition that construction begin in 2005. But GEO was unable to raise the $16 million needed to start construction.
Bridgecreek Chief Executive Officer John Carlson told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that at its March meeting, the University of Hawaii Board of Regents designated Darolyn Lendio, general counsel for the UH system, to work to amend the ground lease held by GEO.
"They had a meeting a while ago, and we're expecting them to come back to us in the very near future," Carlson said.
"The parties are still meeting over the details of the project, and that's all I can tell you," Lendio told the newspaper. She declined to comment on the details of the lease.
Big Island UH regent Marlene Hapai said she had spoken with Lendio about the project.
"Things are still moving forward," Hapai said. "They are still being negotiated, and it appears that general counsel has been working directly with our UH-Hilo administration as well as the Bridgecreek people."
The development is to be financed entirely by private investors, who would recoup their money through commercial rents.
In 1999, news reports placed the value of the project, with only a 500-bed dormitory, at just $55 million.