Obama lived here


POSTED: Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The unremarkable Honolulu apartment building where President Barack Obama grew up could become a national landmark.





        To be eligible for consideration for the National Register for Historic Places, a property must:

» Be at least 50 years old and still look much the way it did in the past.
        » Be associated with events, activities or developments of historical importance.
        » Be nominated by a state historical preservation office.


Once listed, the property is subject to few restrictions, however. The owners can do whatever they want with it as long as there is no federal money attached, according to the National Park Service.


For example, the Alexander Young Building in downtown Honolulu, listed on the national register in August 1980, was demolished in 1981.


Source: National Park Service




Hawaii lawmakers voted yesterday to advance a resolution that would start the process of putting the 12-story, 1960s-era rectangular building on the National Register of Historic Places.

No Mount Vernon, the building is the first childhood home of a U.S. president that is a high-rise rental.

“;It's very unique that the president of the United States grew up in a modest high-rise apartment building in Honolulu,”; said Renton Nip, chairman of the board of the Emma Kwock Chun Corp., which owns the Punahou Circle apartments. “;With his modest upbringing, he has achieved so much. It's terrific.”;

The building's owners have not decided on the best way to recognize Obama's former residence, Nip said.

Obama was born in Honolulu and lived in the two-bedroom 10th-floor apartment from 1971 to 1979, when he graduated from nearby Punahou School.

His grandmother Madelyn Dunham rented a unit in the building for 41 years until she died just before Obama was elected president last year.

“;By placing this on the register, we get to talk about how Hawaii and its places shaped the character and the philosophy of this unique resident,”; said Kiersten Faulkner, executive director of the Historic Hawai'i Foundation.

Placing a site on the National Register of Historic Places is mostly a recognition of its significance without many obligations. The listing comes with investment tax credits and does not limit property rights.

Tourists are not allowed inside to see the apartment itself. They will have to look at the building from tour buses roaming Honolulu's streets.

“;With all due respect, there's a level of pride we can have in having a native son being the president, but I think even the president would say there are more pressing things we have to focus on,”; Adam DeGuire, executive director of the Hawaii Republican Party, said.

Properties applying for listing in the National Register are considered by a professional review board and judged based on their age and significance. The program is administered by the National Park Service.

The resolution asking for various agencies to apply for the historic landmark designation was passed by the House Tourism, Culture and International Affairs Committee. It still must go before other committees and pass both the state House and Senate to be adopted.