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Thursday, November 9, 2000

Kakaako land deal
allows fourth Nauru
tower, adds park space

Star-Bulletin staff

A recently approved land exchange paves the way for the Pacific island nation of Nauru to build a $100-million luxury condominium, its fourth in Kakaako.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority, a quasi-state agency, has approved a deal in which Victoria Ward Ltd. and Nauru Phosphate Royalties Development (Honolulu) Inc. will give up a total of 1.3 acres in Kakaako. (Nauru Phosphate is the development arm for Nauru.)

Under the deal approved Nov. 1 by the development authority, "Nauru gets a better development site;" the development authority ends up with more park space and an extension of Queen Street; and Victoria Ward will get "better access and development potential," said Jan Yokota, development authority executive director.


The development authority will gain 20,000 square feet of property for park space -- increasing the total amount of park area in Kakaako to 108,000 square feet -- and proceed with long-held plans to realign and extend Queen Street from Kamakee to Waimanu streets.

In return, the development authority would refund Nauru $744,000 of $3 million in impact assessment fees it paid in 1993 and allow Nauru to go ahead with plans to build its fourth residential development.

Groundbreaking on that development is expected in 2003. Although Victoria Ward gave up some of its property, it will benefit from increased access to its properties along Queen Street.

Under its original building permit, Nauru dedicated about 88,000 square feet of park space to the development authority. The new deal provides two new park sites -- on either side of the planned Queen Street Extension.

Preliminary park plans include a field, tennis court and playground areas, restrooms and parking. Nauru and Victoria Ward have pledged to establish a $120,000 endowment for park maintenance.

The Nauru Tower Association of Apartment Owners supported the development authority's action, because it will improve traffic flow through Kakaako and help beautify the area, said board president John Breinich.

Don Bremner, of the Kakaako Improvement Association, said some of the park land "is just passive open space, and the more we can get of that in Kakaako, the better."

That open space will provide needed recreation space for the additional residential units, and will be "a big plus for traffic," Bremner said. "We think it also provides us with the possibility of making Queen Street the main street of Kakaako."

Nauru's fourth tower would be built on its 18-acre property bounded by Ala Moana, Piikoi and Waimanu Streets that already houses three other developments. Nauru had purchased the property for $43 million from Dillingham Corp. in 1984.

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