Ward construction cleared
Work can continue on a Whole Foods while a lawsuit proceeds on the iwi found there
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The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.'s lawsuit over treatment of human remains at the Ward Village Shops site received a setback yesterday when Circuit Judge Glenn Kim denied a motion to halt construction.
The decision clears the way for General Growth Properties to continue work on a 67,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market store on the 6-acre site while the lawsuit proceeds.
Moses Haia, attorney for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which filed the motion, called yesterday a sad day for Native Hawaiians who are obligated to to protect and preserve the remains of their ancestors.
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Circuit Judge Glenn Kim yesterday denied a motion seeking to halt construction at the Ward Village Shops redevelopment site while a lawsuit proceeds over the state's handling of native Hawaiian remains there.
The ruling means that construction of the 67,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market store can continue as planned, as long as the state approves the removal of any additional remains, called iwi, discovered there.
The state's count of remains at the 6-acre Kakaako construction site is now 64.
The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., acting on behalf of cultural descendant Paulette Kaleikini, had been trying to stop the further removal of iwi at the site, as well as the construction itself, pending resolution of the lawsuit. A trial date has yet to be set in the case.
"This is a sad day for what I believe the intent of (the law) was," said Moses Haia, attorney for the Legal Corp. "This is a sad day for native Hawaiian remains and the people that look to it as an obligation to protect and preserve those remains with the dignity and respect that they're due. ... The way I see this decision is that it clears the way for the same kinds of decisions in the future."
The state Historic Preservation Division has asked developer General Growth Properties to redesign its residential tower on the Ewa side of the site, near the existing Pier 1 Imports, due to about 30 iwi that have been discovered there.
But so far, it has given the developer the green light to remove and rebury all other iwi discovered on the Diamond Head side of the site, where the Whole Foods store is under construction.
General Growth expects to complete its $150 million project, which is to include a 17-story residential tower, parking garage, Whole Foods Market and retail shops, in late 2008.
"We're pleased with the decision," said John Yamano, General Growth's attorney from McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP. "The court clearly worked hard in addressing all of the issues, all of the facts, and all of the law."
Jan Yokota, a vice president for General Growth, said: "We recognize it has been a difficult situation. Not all the families will agree with the recommendations, but we do respect those differences, and will continue to work closely with all the recognized cultural descendants."
General Growth is considering various options for the residential tower, she said, and intends to work with the cultural descendants.
Vince Kanemoto, the attorney representing the state, said he was pleased with the judge's ruling. "The ruling clearly indicates that SHPD has complied with the law and has done so in a respectful manner regarding the iwi that are the subject of this dispute," he said.