Council backs
Hilton Tower

The resort vows to ease
traffic woes and clean the lagoon

By Pat Omandam

The City Council unanimously approved a new 350-unit, 35-story time-share tower for the Hilton Hawaiian Village yesterday after receiving assurances that the resort's management would clean up the contaminated lagoon and improve traffic flow in the area.

"I think that this action is another major step in our efforts to renovate Waikiki and rejuvenate our economy," said Councilman Jon Yoshimura.

The project is the first to come under a city planned development resort permit process that allows for more floor area or density.

Peter Schall, Hilton Hawaiian Village's senior vice president and managing director, told the Council that community concerns will be addressed. Hilton will drain, clean up and renovate the Hilton Lagoon and improve its water quality, he said. Also, the hotel will not take away or use for dinner luaus the existing shoreline parking lot (former heliport site) between the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and the hotel.

Schall added the hotel will work hard to improve traffic around the estimated $80 million project.

At yesterday's meeting at Kapolei Hale, Councilwoman Darrlyn Bunda said the project, known as the Waikikian Tower, will dress up the area. She added the new intersection being built at Dewey Lane and Ala Moana will improve an ugly, underutilized roadway as well as alleviate traffic congestion at the Hobron Lane and Kalia Road intersections with Ala Moana in Waikiki.

"I think everybody is going to win by this," Bunda said.

More than 40 people testified at the Council hearing, including some who were brought to Kapolei on a chartered tour bus paid for by the hotel. Many business groups and companies that work with the Hilton or who could see economic benefit from the project supported the plan, along with some Waikiki residents who praised it as an improvement to the area.

Robert Vogtritter, whose Ilikai Hotel unit overlooks the planned project, said Dewey Lane is an unsightly alley now. After studying the Waikikian Tower plans, he said he believes it will be attractive.

"I welcome and enjoy Hilton as a neighbor and feel that this new addition, if done as attractively as their other recent additions, will be an enjoyable asset to our neighborhood," Vogtritter said.

Even so, some area residents, surfers and members of Local 5 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union complained about the possible increased traffic, the loss of parking for local use and the addition of more people living in Waikiki. They said the negative effects outweigh any benefits touted by Hilton.

Nevertheless, Council Zoning Chairman Duke Bainum, who represents the Waikiki area, said Hilton has listened and responded to a lot of their concerns and has presented a final, balanced plan that he is comfortable supporting.

Hilton now must get city building and other permits before starting construction.

E-mail to City Desk


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