Saturday, December 4, 1999

Vote sinks Kewalo
waterfront project

The development proposal
was deemed risky because of
underestimated costs and
overstated revenues

By Peter Wagner


The vote was no surprise to D.G. "Andy" Anderson, who said he knew two months ago his "Kewalo Pointe" project was dead.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority yesterday voted 7-2 to put the $138 million project to rest.

The decision puts the authority at square one in efforts to capitalize on prime state land along the Honolulu waterfront.

"We have a lot to consider with the future development of the Kewalo waterfront," said board Chairwoman Lori Ann Lum.

The agency is overseeing redevelopment of about 220 acres of state land makai of Ala Moana Boulevard, bordered by Kewalo Basin. Much of the property is occupied by old government base yards and other old buildings to be razed.

A waterfront park on a former dump site and the Children's Discovery Center in a remodeled garbage incinerator are among the projects already completed.

Anderson, whose John Dominis restaurant overlooks the mouth of Kewalo Basin, wanted to build a complex of restaurants and retail shops on an adjacent 10-acre strip of waterfront property. The development would have included a 130-foot Ferris wheel, a carousel and other recreational features.

Yesterday's vote ended months of acrimony over the project, which lost an advocate with the death of board member and Carpenters Union leader Walter Kupau in August. The vote supported a critical subcommittee report that determined the project was risky because its costs were underestimated and revenues overstated.

One board member who voted against the project, architect Michael Goshi, questioned its quality,

"You can always engineer anything to make it work," Goshi said after the vote. "I didn't feel all the fundamentals were there."

The basic criteria of a viable project, he said, are its cost, revenues and quality. Goshi said he feared low construction costs and plans to use metal framing would compromise the quality of the project.

In a heated confrontation after the vote, Anderson accused Goshi of rubber-stamping the subcommittee's recommendation.

"You're a disappointment," Anderson told Goshi. "You really are."

"I voted my conscience," Goshi responded.

Board member Bradley Mossman, chairman of the three-member subcommittee and a frequent target of Anderson's wrath in recent meetings, responded to Anderson in a written statement after the vote. He denied any bias against Anderson or his project and noted that real estate and marketing consultants can reach vastly different conclusions.

Voting to support Kewalo Point were board members Douglas Won and Patrick Kubota.

Asked if he would pursue the proposal further, Anderson said, "I don't want to work with people who don't want to work with me."

After the meeting, Anderson, a veteran Republican political leader in Hawaii, said he is considering running or getting involved somehow in the next governor's race.

"I may run as a Democrat," he said. "That might be fun."

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