COURTESY GENERAL GROWTH PROPERTIES
A rendering of the urban-village Ward project that will have a mix of mid-rise and high-rise condominiums.
HCDA seeks more comment on Ward redevelopment project
Today's open house will give groups another chance to voice their thoughts
STORY SUMMARY »
The Hawaii Community Development Authority is holding an open house today to seek more community input on General Growth Properties' long-term redevelopment plan for the Ward area.
General Growth in April presented a vision of Ward transformed into a mixed-use urban village with up to 4,300 more residences, including some in high-rise condominiums along Ala Moana Boulevard.
The agency's move to seek more input than usual comes in the wake of a resolution passed by the state Legislature asking that it defer some zoning decisions for the project.
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The Hawaii Community Development Authority, faced with rumblings of caution from the state Legislature, is taking extra steps in seeking public input on General Growth Properties
' proposed Ward Neighborhood Master Plan -- starting with an open house this afternoon.
Ward open house
» What: Ward Neighborhood Master Plan
» When: 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. today. Presentation begins at 4:30 p.m., with open house to follow.
» Where: Honolulu Design Center, 1250 Kapiolani Blvd., 2nd floor, Cupola Room
» Who: Jan Yokota, General Growth's vice president of development, will present the master plan. The Hawaii Community Development Authority will accept comments from the public. Comments also may be submitted to http:// hcdaweb.org/contact-info
"Instead of just that single, public hearing, we are looking to touch various stakeholder groups and to solicit input over the Web to help us form a most informed staff recommendation," said Anthony Ching, HCDA's executive director.
General Growth in April presented plans for the 60 acres it owns at Ward, with up to 4,300 more residential units in a mix of mid-rise and high-rise condominiums along Ala Moana Boulevard.
The Chicago-based developer also envisions a transformation of Ward into a mixed-use urban village that would replace most of its existing structures over the next 20 years or more.
"I applaud the initiative of General Growth in putting forth a comprehensive development plan for the next 20 years," said Ching. "They're committing themselves to economic activity in our community and I'm appreciative of that commitment, especially when some are predicting the next few years may be slower."
The proposal has not met with applause everywhere, however.
Since General Growth presented its plans to HCDA for its approval in April, the Legislature has passed a resolution asking the agency to pause, citing concerns including the impact upon neighboring small businesses and industrial uses, traffic circulation and the uses of Kewalo basin and Kakaako makai lands.
Senate Resolution 108 requests that HCDA defer decisions on any applications for zoning changes until the completion of a supplemental environmental impact statement, as well as the subsequent adoption of a draft mauka area plan and rules.
The SEIS -- which is being prepared by EDAW Inc. along with the HCDA staff -- is currently under way, though no completion date has been announced yet.
The resolution asks that HCDA report to the state Legislature no later than 20 days prior to its regular session in 2009 after public review and scrutiny of its actions on the master plan application.
Michelle Matson, secretary of the Kakaako Makai Community Planning Advisory Council, supported the resolution.
She said General Growth's master plan deviates from the community-based Kakaako mauka plan because it calls for higher building heights.
"The biggest advantage of the community-based Kakaako mauka plan was the change from high towers to human-scale residential neighborhoods with wide streets and sidewalks -- not huge parking pedestals with towers on top," said Matson, who was speaking as an individual. "These are two very different perspectives."
Matson opposes the construction of high-rises along Ala Moana Boulevard.
HCDA has 200 days to review and approve General Growth's plan after the complete application is submitted, a process that requires a public hearing. If the authority makes no decision, the plan would automatically be approved.
Ching said the authority will discuss the Senate resolution, which does not carry the force of law.
He added that no final zoning decisions would made by the approval of the overall master plan, but would come later for individual projects.
HCDA will conduct a rigorous and comprehensive review, he said, examining what the master plan provides in public facilities and community benefits, he said, in addition to its compliance with existing rules.
General Growth still plans to pursue the project, said Jan Yokota, vice president of development.
"We believe that it's a very important project for the community and for the Kakaako area," said Yokota.