More legal roadblocks for Ward Whole Foods
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General Growth Properties has halted work again on the Whole Foods Market store site in Kakaako after the discovery of three more sets of native Hawaiian remains.
The $150 million mixed-used project at the former Ward Village Shops site has encountered numerous stop-and-go delays from the state as the number of iwi has grown.
The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. yesterday filed motions seeking a stop to further disinterment of iwi, as well as a halt to construction activity at the entire 6-acre site bounded by Auahi, Kamakee and Queen streets.
Meanwhile, General Growth is facing costly delays on its project, while the state Historic Preservation Division is facing more scrutiny.
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Work on the planned Whole Foods Market store in Kakaako has stopped again after the discovery of still more remains at the construction site, bringing the count to 58.
The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., meanwhile, filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order yesterday on behalf of cultural descendant Paulette Kaleikini to stop the removal of any more human remains from the redevelopment site.
In the motion, NHLC attorney Moses Haia asks that, in light of the additional finds, construction be halted at the entire Ward Village redevelopment site.
General Growth Properties Inc. is building a 67,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market, 17-story residential tower, parking garage and retail shops on a 6-acre site bound by Auahi, Kamakee and Queen streets.
The controversy over the handling of the iwi, or native Hawaiian remains, found at the Ward site has grown more heated as the count has grown from the first 11 to 58.
General Growth's $150 million project faces mounting costs with the numerous delays. The state Historic Preservation Division, meanwhile, has fallen under more scrutiny by a new coalition that says it is understaffed and underfunded.
Kaleikini feels that the testing has gone on long enough.
"How many iwi kupuna do they need to discover before it's determined that this is a graveyard of native Hawaiians?" she said. "This is a historic property and it is protected by the state law... The state must step in and stop this desecration of our iwi kupuna."
In August, Laura Thielen, interim chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, authorized the removal of 10 remains beneath the planned Whole Foods store.
Debate centers around whether the burials constitute a concentration, or historic site -- a point on which the state has flip-flopped between June and August.
Thomas Dye, president of the Society of Hawaiian Archeology stands by his estimate of as many as 335 remains at the site, which would make it a historic burial site. His professional opinion has been submitted with this latest motion.
Thielen would be responsible for determining the fate of the additional three sets of remains recently uncovered. Thielen declined to comment due to the pending litigation.
Jan Yokota, General Growth's vice president of development, said the company has been following procedures by halting work and informing the state of every new discovery, and then waiting for further instruction.
The latest motion by NHLC alleges that the iwi will be harmed by further activity and that General Growth's archaeologist already admitted damage to remains through handling.
In a separate motion filed earlier in February, Kaleikini challenged the state's authorization of the disinterment of 11 sets of iwi. A motion seeking summary judgment on that challenge is scheduled to be heard on Sept. 28.