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StarBulletin.com

School, university plan refit


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POSTED: Monday, February 08, 2010

Saint Louis School and Chaminade University are planning a $60 million-to-$80 million renovation and expansion of their campuses, including a new parking structure, replacement of the Gerber Field House and new dorms.

The schools and the Marianist Center of Hawaii, which owns the campus, have submitted a Plan Review Use permit application to the city for approval of a new master plan for the site.

New construction projects include:

» A 2,000-seat athletic field house to replace the Gerber Field House and a locker room building.

» A 228-stall parking structure.

» Three new residence halls with 195 beds and a pool facility for Chaminade University.

Construction of the new facilities depends on City Council approval of the permit and fundraising, said Gene Yong, a consultant on the project with Belt Collins Hawaii Ltd.

When completed, the new dorms at Chaminade will increase university housing to 492 beds, which would allow about 40 percent of the students to live on campus, said Kapono Ryan, a Chaminade spokeswoman. Chaminade hopes to increase enrollment to as many as 1,250 undergraduate students from the current 1,030 undergraduates.

The new athletic field house at Saint Louis will also be used by Chaminade and for school events and is part of a larger renovation of the athletic facilities, said James Morris, executive assistant to the president at Saint Louis School.

The school also plans to renovate McCabe Gym and add office space for both Chaminade's and Saint Louis' athletic departments, he said.

The new enclosed and air-conditioned building will replace the Gerber Field House, a Kamehameha Schools building purchased for $1 that has been on campus since at least 1979, Morris said.

Members of nearby neighborhood boards said they had questions about traffic, noise and the effect of the construction on views from Saint Louis Heights.

But the boards' members said the school answered many of the concerns during presentations last year.

"The main questions people had were how it would affect traffic," said Rachel Orange, chairwoman of the Palolo Neighborhood Board.

Brother Robert Hoppe, vice president of the Marianist Center of Hawaii, said the plan will take away parking spaces around the oval at the entrance to both campuses to add another lane, making it easier for cars to enter and leave the new parking structure, and to add a third lane for drop-offs.

Yong said not much can be done about traffic during the peak morning period because many of the cars driving past Saint Louis on Waialae Avenue are going to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Punahou School, Mid-Pacific and other schools.

"There's regional traffic congestion, a lot of it out of the control of the campus," he said.

The schools are promoting bus passes and staggering starting times for classes at Chaminade so that those students do not arrive during the peak periods, Yong said.

Hoppe said construction on the new parking structure could start next year and be completed by the fall of 2012, if the plan's permit is approved.

The new structure would allow Chaminade to use land on the upper campus now used for parking to build dorm space.

Ryan said the new facilities were designed so they will not obstruct Saint Louis Heights residents' views.

Fundraising will start after the permit is approved, Yong said.

Construction of the athletic facility and dorms will not start until after enough money is raised to finish the buildings, but the goal is to have the projects completed or under way by 2015, Ryan said.

Morris said the amount of money raised will determine the extent of the renovations, but he thinks alumni will support the project.

"Athletics is very strongly supported by the alumni," he said. "I think that's one of the traditions of Saint Louis. I'm optimistic that it can be done."