Thursday, June 21, 2001

City & County of Honolulu

Council agrees to
mayor’s ‘gateway’ plan

The first step is designating
five properties as a park

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

City Council members have agreed to designate five properties along the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Kalakaua Avenue as a park, the first step toward Mayor Jeremy Harris' goal of an outdoor plaza as a gateway into Waikiki.

But a top Harris aide assured Council members they won't follow through if there continued to be serious opposition from landowners to the 1-acre project that's been compared to Portland's Pioneer Plaza.

The Council approved the placing of a park symbol on a Development Plan map by a 7-1 vote. Member John DeSoto was the dissenting vote. Councilman Andy Mirikitani, who represents Ala Moana-Kapiolani area, is on trial on charges that he accepted kickbacks and was excused from yesterday's meeting.

City Managing Director Ben Lee said the administration has met with at least four property owners and offered to either incorporate the city's plans into theirs, a land exchange for city property elsewhere, outright purchase, or first-right-of-refusal for any new facilities that would be placed on the parcels.

Lee stressed that the city has not yet begun condemnation proceedings against the landowners.

"I believe all we want is some time to work out our differences with the landowners," he said.

Representatives from the landowners and tenants of nearly all the parcels raised objections to the city's handling of the project.

"If we're going to move again, we're going to lose a lot money, possibly go out of business," said Eric Holzman, manager of Room Air Conditioning, one of the affected businesses.

Despite the issues raised by property owners, community representatives praised the mayor's plan as a good attempt toward improving the Kapiolani-Waikiki area.

"It's important for the revitalization of this highly visible area," said Kayleen Polichetti of the Waikiki Improvement Association.

City & County of Honolulu

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