Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Hilton plans
7th tower on its
Waikiki property

Neighbors are already raising
objections about possible traffic
problems in the area

By Mary Adamski

WITH ITS NEW $95 million Kalia Tower slated to open next month, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has launched plans for a seventh high-rise on its Waikiki acreage.

The planned 350-foot Waikikian Tower will be built on a narrow 1.9-acre strip formerly occupied by the Waikikian Hotel and Tahitian Lanai restaurant, which closed in 1996.

Map Hilton spokeswoman Bernie Caalim-Polanzi said the tower will contain 400 time-share units to be managed by Hilton Grand Vacations. The 264-unit Lagoon Tower was reopened earlier this year as a time-share operation.

Caalim-Polanzi said the proposal also includes a "family fun swimming pool, a wedding chapel and gazebo and a restaurant with a Hawaiian flare." The current Lagoon Tower pool would be removed, providing for a "contiguous shoreline" around the Hilton Lagoon.

The city Department of Planning and Permitting, the state Office of Environmental Quality Control and other agencies have been notified that an environmental impact statement is being prepared.

Residents of surrounding buildings raised objections when the plan was unveiled last week at the Waikiki Neighborhood Board meeting.

"Traffic is already crushing in that area, and the Kalia Tower isn't opened yet," said Liz Hamilton, an Ala Moana resident.

Robert Thomas, a Wailana condominium owner, was outraged that the Hilton plan calls for a new intersection and traffic light on Ala Moana to expedite access to and from the Hilton on Dewey Lane, a 20-foot-wide utility road between the Ilikai Hotel and the Waikikian site.

"It will help get their tour buses in and out, but for everybody else it's destructive," said Thomas.

Besides the new tower entry, plans call for the porte-cochere -- covered entry -- of the Lagoon Tower to be relocated to its Ewa side to make use of the roadway.

Thomas envisioned the extended construction, combined with the current six-floor parking garage, as "a massive wall some 600 feet long ... (that) will block out everything between Rainbow Tower and the Ilikai building. It is shocking and nightmarish."

The preparation notice by Belt Collins Hawaii Ltd. acknowledges that "the project will impact mauka and/or makai views from surrounding properties.

Ocean views from some units in Discovery Bay, the Pomaikai, the Hawaii Dynasty and the Waikiki Park Side may be impacted, as well as ocean views from other taller buildings in the Hobron Lane and Kaioo Drive areas mauka of Ala Moana Boulevard."

Baki Thomas, who lives in a Wailana penthouse, said "Waikiki is buzzing about it. People are alarmed, how it can happen. I lived in Hilton Lagoon for 22 years, and when it became a time share, I had to move out."

Waikiki Neighborhood Board Chairman Sam Bren said the board "gave our unanimous approval to go ahead with an EIS (environmental impact statement). We didn't vote on the structure; it isn't a final plan yet. Basically, the board is in favor of the project.

"They want a new stoplight to allow left turns (into Dewey Lane). On the other side of coin, there is a plan to redo Ala Moana. We can see some handwriting on the wall," Bren said.

"I think Hilton has done a fantastic job of developing its property. The plans are an enhancement as far as Waikiki is concerned," Bren said.

May 7 is the deadline for written comments. They can be delivered to Daniel Dinell, vice president for strategic planning and community affairs, Hilton Hawaiian Village, 2005 Kalia Rd., Honolulu 96815; or to Lee Sichter, senior planner and project manager, Belt Collins Hawaii, 680 Ala Moana, Suite 100, Honolulu 96813.

There will be public hearings and opportunities to comment when various permit applications are made, said Patrick Seguirant, city urban design branch chief. Should the Hilton seek greater density than zoning code allows, it would involve a planned resort development process, which requires City Council approval, he said. Written comments may also be sent to Randall Fujiki, director of the Department of Planning and Permitting, 650 S. King St., Honolulu 96813.

E-mail to City Desk

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