Thursday, April 22, 1999

Aloha Tower
parking may cost
up to $20 mil

The cost of extra stalls may
be a sticking point when lawmakers
meet to discuss possible sites

By Jerry Tune


The developer of Aloha Tower Marketplace says adding parking will cost much more than originally estimated -- no matter where it goes.

Art The revelation comes at a time when state legislators are hashing out where the best place is to add parking for the Honolulu Harbor center on state lands.

Marketplace owners Aloha Tower LP say cost estimates to develop about 520 stalls of parking now range from about $12 million at Irwin Park to a whopping $20 million for the Pier 10-11 area. Even a parking garage at the grassy area near Piers 5-6 -- the developer's least preferred site -- would cost about $12 million.

The original cost estimates were $10 million at Piers 10-11 and $7 million to $9 million at Irwin Park based only on the developer's best guess. That has changed now that the owners have talked to potential contractors.

"We have preliminary estimates from contractors for Irwin Park which range from $10.5 million to $15.5 million," said Scott McCormack, vice president at Aloha Tower LP.

The shortage of convenient parking has hurt sales at the marketplace's shops and restaurants.

The state Legislature is about to go into conference committee to consider separate bills on Aloha Tower's parking. The Senate favors Pier 10-11 while the House favors Irwin Park, fronting the marketplace.

However, a compromise site is possible, said Sen. Lorraine Inouye, (D-N. Hilo) chairwoman of the economic development committee.

McCormack said the cost estimates has been one of the sticking points in discussions with the state for many months, as different sites were considered. He said the state, so far, has not pledged any firm amount to help on the costs.

Ron Hirano, executive director of the Aloha Tower Development Corp., the state agency overseeing development, said that once the Legislature gives some direction on where to put the parking then state funding can be addressed.

"We couldn't agree to anything that would bind the state," Hirano said.

Hirano said that a waiver of some lease rent to Aloha Tower LP might be part of a financial solution if the parking were developed at Piers 10-11 where the state would get a new cruise ship terminal as part of the development.

However, he said the corporation still favors the Irwin Park site for new parking. The transportation department also prefers the park instead of Piers 10-11, where a workable terminal already exists. American Hawaiian Cruises opposes the Pier 10-11 location because it would be disruptive to the cruise line's operation.

An area mauka of Piers 5-6, one-block away from the marketplace, could become a compromise. The conference committee takes up the issue in the next two weeks.

"I've walked the (Irwin) park area and it's not very attractive," said Rep. Robert Herkes, (D, Kau-Puna) chairman of the economic development and business concerns committee. "We can do something like Union Square in San Francisco" where a park covers an underground garage.

Outdoor Circle, Hawaii's Thousand Friends and other groups oppose an underground garage at Irwin Park, in part because it would uproot about 20 trees.

Herkes holds firm on the park site but Inouye said she is optimistic that another parking solution will be reached. "We will probably agree with the House and find an alternative," she said yesterday.

Land next to the Hawaiian Electric Co. power plant -- a small grassy area with a few trees -- could be combined with the street area mauka of Piers 5-6 to add a parking garage.

That would leave the Piers 5-6 area open for development. Aloha Tower Associates, the previous developers, had mentioned the possibility of a hotel on the site.

No matter what the Legislature decides, the start of construction could not take place until next year.

Hirano said it would take at least eight months to do the drawings and the state administration would still need legislative approval to use state revenue bonds or federal industrial improvement bonds to finance construction. Actual construction would take 12 to 15 months.

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